CPSB rejects tax increase for teacher pay - KPLC 7 News, Lake Charles, Louisiana

CPSB rejects tax increase for teacher pay

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(Source: MGN Online) (Source: MGN Online)
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A proposed tax increase was discussed and rejected at Tuesday evening's Calcasieu Parish School Board budget committee meeting.

The motion was to pass a possible property tax increase for employee salaries. That motion failed 6-5.

Teri Johnson, president of the Calcasieu Federation of Teachers, serves as a watchdog for teachers in the parish. 

"I do hope that they keep in mind that we are losing teachers," Johnson said after the committee's decision against raises.

A majority of the committee agreed the proposal was poorly timed, but Johnson is persistent. 

"I will keep bringing the issue up again and again because as we grow as far as our population grows and with the influx of construction workers or whatever, our school system is going to have to grow, too, because if they bring their families it's going to be more children in our district," Johnson said.

She said Calcasieu Parish is the fifth largest school district in the state, but ranks 42nd out of about 69 systems in terms of teacher salaries.

Chief Financial Officer Karl Bruchhaus said that possible 10-millage property tax increase would have brought in about $3,000 per teacher, or about $16 million parishwide.

"It has nothing to do with the value they place on teachers and employees. In fact, they want to put a place holder on the money that we already have that we're using to support those folks and make sure that stays in place," Bruchhaus said.

And Bruchhaus said the committee needs to focus on two tax renewals coming up on the ballot next spring.

"The renewals right now are what they need to focus on. Certainly all of our employees deserve a raise and could use a raise. They really determined the risk of renewals for the possibility of a new tax right now," he said.

But for Johnson and other teachers across the parish, the wait for a salary increase will be a little longer.

"I'm disappointed, but I do understand the facts of the situation," Johnson said. "I just want them to have hope."

Bruchhaus mentioned the motions will be revisited in a few years, possibly in 2016. 

The two tax renewals mentioned are a half-cent sales tax and a 3.5-millage property tax, both up for 10-year renewals to be decided next year.

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