LAKE CHARLES, LA (KPLC) - Some employees are fighting for a $5,000 stipend that some other Calcasieu Parish School employees already receive.
At a budget committee meeting Tuesday, nationally certified personnel - like speech pathologists and social workers - made their case for a stipend that teachers and counselors with the same level of certification have been receiving.
"If other nationally certified people deserve the money, so do we," said Jodie Champagne, a speech language pathologist (SLP).
Champagne said it's simple: if the school board pays nationally certified teachers and counselors a $5,000 stipend, then all others with the same level of certification should receive it. Those other positions include some SLP, audiologists, social workers, diagnosticians, and school psychologists.
Dozens of these employees in special services asked the committee to award them the stipend that they once got. Years ago, the state began paying some nationally certified school employees a stipend, until the budget could no longer afford it. Once the state stopped paying, it was left to each school system. Calcasieu Parish continued to pay teachers and counselors, which is mandatory, but other nationally certified personnel never got another stipend.
"There aren't very many people in Calcasieu Parish who bring money into the parish," said Champagne.
One thing the personnel pointed out - only nationally certified speech pathologists can bill Medicaid for services provided to students.
"Over $1 million to Calcasieu Parish each year. If not for these people who we are talking about tonight - which I was one of - you couldn't bill Medicaid and receive a million dollars a year," said school board member Glenda Gay.
An incentive for these men and women could not only keep them from leaving for private sector jobs, but the stipend could draw new hires. Prospective employees are important as almost 20 of these positions are eligible for retirement.
Many on the committee showed their support, but all agreed they need more time before a final decision. The matter will be further researched and discussed at the next budget meeting.