Board delays action on employee salaries
For the second time in as many months the St. Martin School Board delayed action on a proposed salary increase for the system’s almost 1,000 employees.
District 9 representative Floyd Knott has been urging board members to approve a salary increase and offered a motion during last Wednesday’s meeting to grant all employees an $80 per month raise.
But a substitute motion by Mark Hebert and Steve Fuselier put the issue on hold until the board’s September meeting.
In another matter at their monthly meeting, the board approved a new two-year contract for Superintendent Allen Blanchard Jr., extending his employment in the top position through June 2023.
In pushing for the salary increase, Knott proposed diverting $1.2 million from the Sales Tax No. 1 account to fund the hike.
He said revenue from that sales tax is currently split roughly 50-50 between salaries and maintenance, a ratio he proposed to change to 25% for maintenance and 75% for salaries.
But CFO Casey Broussard cautioned that money from Sales Tax No. 1 is used for other school operations in addition to maintenance. “No matter how you cut it, you’re going to have a hole in the budget,” she told board members, pointing out that the balance in the Sales Tax. No. 1 account has decreased over the past several years.
And Blanchard warned board members that the system will be facing new and unusual expenses such as the purchase of large quantities of hand sanitizer and additional facility cleaning requirements resulting from the COVID-19 situation.
The parish system may also see a decrease in state funding due to a possible drop in enrollment as parents consider other educational options for their children.
And first term board member and retired educator Edna Johnson of District 3 again said that many teachers she has spoken with prefer to receive periodic pay supplements over a small monthly salary hike.
After extensive discussion, the board voted 6-2 to postpone the issue to September with only Knott and Richard Potier opposed. Member Jimmy Durio was absent.
In other business, board members:
•Approved the renewal of the School Resource Officer contract with the Sheriff’s Office. SROs will be assigned to the three parish high schools and the JCEP campus in St. Martinville. The board will reimburse the Sheriff’s Office $38,614 per officer, or a total of $154,458 for the coming school year.
•Agreed to seek requests for proposals from firms to provide assistance in the anticipated reapportionment of school board districts once results of the 2020 Census are released.