School board member wants Jefferson Parish voters to reconsider teacher pay tax

By Littice Bacon-Blood

Source: | The Times-Picayune

November 21, 2017

Jefferson Parish School Board member Cedric Floyd said Tuesday (Nov. 21) that he wants voters to reconsider an 8.45-mill property tax that was rejected on Saturday. The tax, estimated to generate $27 million a year, would be dedicated to teacher and staff pay raises.

The tax was proposed to increase the starting pay of first-year teachers who district officials say lag other New Orleans-area school districts in compensation.

The proposal would have increased a starting teacher’s annual salary in Jefferson Parish $4,000 a year to $44,949, and would have made Jefferson the second-highest starting salary among eight districts in the metro region, according to data compiled by school officials.

Floyd, who authored the board’s resolution in August, said he’d like to see the same tax on the April 28 ballot, and plans to put a resolution on the School Board’s agenda for discussion in December or January.

“The employees are still worthy” of a raise, Floyd said. “That was a razor-thin loss.”

The proposition failed by 484 votes in an election in which 41,636 ballots were cast.

Despite falling short, Floyd said the more than 20,000 votes in favor of the tax is “nearly a mandate” for reconsideration.

“I wished the results would have been different, but I’m encouraged,” he said, adding, “now I know, people know ‘Hey, we can win this.”

Floyd said he hasn’t discussed the matter with any of his colleagues, but is hopeful they would approve it again. The first resolution passed on a 7-to-1 vote in August.

The lone objection came from board member Sandy Denapolis Bosarge who said she favored the raise, but didn’t want to end up presenting two property tax propositions to voters.

At the time, the school board was discussing the possibility of a tax to fund maintenance and upgrades to its facilities.

The board has hired consultants who are currently studying the district’s facilities and working on a master plan as to what is needed. That study is expected to be delivered early next year.

That ongoing master plan study is one of the reasons the nonprofit government watchdog group Bureau of Governmental Research publicly opposed the tax.

The group said the district rushed the tax proposition to the ballot without a comprehensive study to justify the raises. It also said the facilities study should have been completed before the salary tax was placed on the ballot.

If the school board approves a new motion, the election would be on the ballot that could include a runoff for Jefferson Parish sheriff, Floyd said.

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