By David Jacobs | The Center Square
The Louisiana Senate Education Committee agreed Thursday to call for bigger raises for teachers and school support personnel than the state education board’s recommended spending plan includes.
The main state spending bill is $5.6 million short of paying for the proposed $3.9 billion funding formula, even without the enhanced salary request, according to the Legislative Fiscal Office. Sen. Cleo Fields, the Baton Rouge Democrat who chairs the education committee, said, however, other legislative leaders have told him additional money is available.
Gov. John Bel Edwards had proposed a $400 annual pay bump for teachers and $200 for support personnel, with the stipulation that bigger raises could be implemented if the Revenue Estimating Conference raised the state’s revenue projection. The Board of Elementary and Secondary Education created and approved a formula that included the governor’s requested raises as part of an $82 million increase in state aid, with the understanding larger raises were possible.
The committee is asking BESE to increase the raises to $1,000 and $500, respectively. BESE has the sole authority to create the state education funding formula, which is known as the Minimum Foundation Program or MFP and represents the main state contribution to K-12 funding. The Louisiana Legislature can approve or reject the MFP but cannot change it. If lawmakers don’t approve a new MFP, last year’s formula stays in place.
Edwards has said he wants to see state teacher pay raised to the regional average by the time he leaves office.
In its current form, the approved formula for 2021-2022 provides for an increase of 1.375% in the base per-pupil rate from $4,015 to $4,070, yielding a projected $40 million increase for local schools and school systems; a pay raise of $400 for certificated staff and $200 for noncertificated support staff, which would cost about $40 million; and a funding allocation for annual stipends to certified mentor teachers in the amount of $2,000 per mentor teacher, at a cost of about $2 million.