House approves teacher pay hikes, MFP increase

John Dupont
Louisiana Capitol in Baton Rouge.

Teachers and support personnel will receive a pay raise and the state will increase funding to parish school systems as part of a bill which received final approval Monday.

The state House of Representatives voted 103-0 in favor of Senate Concurrent Resolution 3 by state Sen. Dan "Blade" Morrish, R-Jennings, which will grant certified Louisiana public school teachers a $1,000 bump in pay. Support personnel – cafeteria workers, office staff, and custodial workers, among others – will receive an extra $500 per year.

The funding bill will funnel an additional 1.375 percent in state funding to public schools through the Minimum Foundation Program, the state revenue allocation system for public schools.

The pay increases will cost the state $101 million annually. The MFP hike will come at an annual price tag of $39 million.

The vote brings teachers their first pay hike since 2007, under then-Gov. Kathleen Blanco – herself a former public school teacher. The pay raise will affect 39,000 employees.

The MFP hike brings the allocation amount to 3.85 billion annually for the 720,000 students in the Louisiana public school system.

The per pupil allocation can be used by districts to provide for greater investment in school supplies, books, smart boards and cutting-edge technology to prepare our youth for the workforce of tomorrow.

The extra dollars will also help to relieve the burden teachers have faced to pay out of their own pockets for their classroom instructional supplies.

The hikes in teacher pay and the MFP are part of a $30 billion budget state lawmakers must approve before the session ends today (June 6) at 6 p.m.

Gov. John Bel Edwards earlier this year targeted teacher pay raises and additional funding for public schools as his chief recommendation for lawmakers in the 2019 session.

Louisiana teachers earn an average of $50,000 per year, which is approximately $4,000 below the Southern average and $9,000 under the national average.

The pay raise also followed the urging of state Board of Education Superintendent John White, who also pushed for increased focus on early childhood education, which gained approval last week.

The proposal drew overwhelming approval from parish public school districts, the Louisiana Federation of Teachers, the state Board of Elementary and Secondary Education and other public school coalitions.

The measure drew tepid response, however, from some House Republicans – including state Appropriations Committee Chairman Cameron Henry, R-Metairie – who questioned whether the state budget could accommodate the additional costs for public education.

Some House lawmakers pushed for one-time $1,200 stipend, a move which drew intense criticism from superintendents and educators statewide.

The teacher pay raises drew 88 percent approval from residents polled by LSU's Reilly Center for Media & Public Affairs – 90 percent among state Democrats and independents, and 80 percent among Republicans.