On the Ballot

Jefferson school system’s $29 million tax hike endorsed by Bureau of Governmental Research

By Drew Broach

Source: NOLA.com | The Times-Picayune

April 9, 2019

The Jefferson Parish public school system’s $28.8 million tax increase was endorsed Tuesday (April 9) by the independent Bureau of Governmental Research, which called it a “well-developed” proposal to make teacher pay competitive with other local school systems. The property tax is on the May 4 ballot, 15 months after voters rejected a $27 million tax increase to grant across-the board-raises for all employees.

Much has changed since then. The School Board replaced Superintendent Isaac Joseph with Cade Brumley in March 2018, and five of the board’s nine members were replaced in last fall’s elections. Brumley and the current School Board now propose a more nuanced pay plan with additional money for almost all employees but especially teachers who are early in their careers, delivering top performance or working in high-need schools and subjects.

Thus the Bureau of Governmental Research, a nonprofit watchdog group, finds “the current proposition overcomes the key deficiencies of the school system’s failed 2017 pay raise tax proposition.”

The 7.9-mill tax would add $117.71 to the annual bill for a homestead-exempt house valued at $224,000, the average selling price in Jefferson. For the owner of a $500,000 commercial property, the property tax would rise $592.50.

Jefferson runs Louisiana’s largest public school system, a C-graded operation with one of the state’s lowest graduation rates, one of its highest rates of economically disadvantaged students and the highest rate of students with limited proficiency in English language. Brumley and the School Board have committed themselves to raise the performance grade to an A in five years.

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