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School board considers new bonus for teachers

Tuesday, May 7, 2024
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As lawmakers haggle over teacher pay in the Louisiana state budget, the Lincoln Parish School Board is eyeing a new one-time payout for its educators and other employees.

The board’s Finance Committee is recommending a $3,000 June salary supplement for certified employees across the district, as well as a $1,500 supplement for support staff, to be funded by surplus property tax revenues.

The full board will likely vote on this bonus pay at today’s meeting.

Employees already receive salary supplements in November and May, funded by collections from various sales and property taxes the board has levied.

An 8.48-mill, parishwide property tax originally passed in 2000 is 50% dedicated by proposition to salaries and benefits.

It already contributes to the May supplement and also finances a $ 1,200/$ 600 supplement that’s baked into employees’ regular paychecks.

But collections from this tax are projected to outpace the cost of these existing payouts by more than half a million dollars.

That would buoy the portion of this fund’s reserves dedicated to salaries to $4.7 million.

That’s why district administration said they recommended the extra employee payout — to draw the fund’s balance back down and pass the excess on to teachers and other personnel.

“We can’t use these funds for anything else,” Chief Financial Officer Juanita Duke said. “ It’s not like we can use them for capital projects, to purchase textbooks or anything like that.”

It would cost just under $ 2.4 million to pay out this bonus, essentially cutting this tax fund’s balance in half.

Duke said the district likes to keep a year’s worth of expenses in reserve in these funds, a governmental accounting best practice. She said this payout allows the fund balance to come down closer to that threshold.

“This is one way to lower this fund balance, just to issue a one- time payment,” Duke said.

The payment is a one- time bonus that isn’t expected to repeat next year. Duke said the fund’s surpluses aren’t enough to add this additional pay into teachers’ salaries yearly.

The 2000 property tax was last renewed for 10 years in 2017.