BESE refuses to back down from $39M state aid proposal, putting teacher pay raise at risk

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Gary Janes, the president of BESE, listens to supporters of its plan for teacher pay raises and aid to schools. (Photo credit: Madeline Meyer, LSU Manship School News Service)

By: Madeline Meyer and Sheridan Wall, LSU Manship School News Service

Published: May 7, 2019

BATON ROUGE — A state education board defied House leaders Tuesday and refused to back down from its proposal for $39 million in state aid to schools even though that could put a teacher pay raise in jeopardy.

The move sets up the biggest showdown of the legislative session. Gov. John Bel Edwards is backing the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education against House leaders who also support a teacher pay hike but do not want to give local school districts more money.

By law, the board sets the amount of state money to be provided to schools, and the Legislature can only vote that up or down. So if the board does not back down, any raise that the Legislature approves for teachers would be just a one-time stipend and not a permanent part of their paychecks.

Teachers, representatives from education advocacy groups and school superintendents all told the board Tuesday that they were willing to take that risk because the school districts have not had an increase in state aid in a decade.

Deborah Meaux, the president of the Louisiana Association of Educators, which lobbies for K-12 employees, said that BESE’s proposal “is the best plan that can make sure it is sustainable and we are not back here again next year asking for the same money.”

“We don’t want a one-and-done,” she said. “We want to make sure investment in education is ongoing,”

Read more in The Bossier Press-Tribune.

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