EBR School Board approves one-time stipend; amount varies by position
BATON ROUGE - The East Baton Rouge School Board Thursday approved a one-time stipend for more employees than was originally proposed, settling on $1,200 for certificated staff and $600 for all other district employees.
The compromise came two weeks after a school board committee did not make a recommendation for Superintendent Sito Narcisse's plan that called for $2,000 bonuses for classroom teachers and librarians only.
That proposal received pushback from employees, members of the public, and board members who raised concerns about fairness and the district's finances.
"There is nothing that is a greater morale killer than to say publicly, 'we're giving you guys a bonus, but only you guys and everybody else doesn't get one,'" said board member Connie Bernard, who represents District 8, earlier this month.
Thursday night, employees previously left out of the proposal advocated for inclusion.
"I love what I do, but I also want to be treated fairly, too," one bus driver said.
A steady stream of public comments supported including more employees.
"Y'all say, 'we appreciate you, thank you,' show me you appreciate me, show me a thank you," bus driver Latoya Dunn said. "Because I really don't feel it."
During the two weeks leading up to Thursday's meeting, several options were floated behind the scenes among board members.
Ultimately, the majority of board members supported the $1,200 and $600 stipend proposal, which carries a $6.8 million price tag.
"It's not coming in any shape, form or fashion as a matter of disdain or looking down on our support staff," Dawn Chanet Collins, who represents District 4, said.
Other board members argued any payment needed to be equal across the board.
"For one time, can we please remove the stigma that we're placing positions higher than others when everybody has a contribution to the work that is going into our school system," Dadrius Lanus, who represents District 2, said. "I think that everyone should have the opportunity to be paid the same thing. I think that's only fair."
Lanus' motion failed, while Collins' plan passed with seven votes.
Some employees included in the updated plan still say getting a lesser amount doesn't cut it.
"Even with the $600, when they take out [taxes,] we may get $300 or $400," Dunn said. We make $20,000 or less a year as bus operators. That's nothing."
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