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Frustrated teachers demand better pay at packed Livingston school board meeting
LIVINGSTON PARISH - Outside of the Livingston Parish School Board, teachers lined the street asking for support. They waved signs and wore T-shirts proclaiming "I'm not worth a penny, help us get our voice heard."
It comes just days after Livingston Parish voters shot down a one-percent sales tax that would have funded raises for the school system.
Inside, it was packed, with some not able to make it into the main room as teachers took the podium to complain about their pay. Many like Sandi Stafforg, who teaches in Holden, made it clear that change is needed.
“We are an A+ school system, but our pay scale is an F.”
It seems as though everyone on the board, including Superintendent Joe Murphy, believes the teachers should be paid more, but there is a big divide. Murphy says there just isn’t a way to give teachers a meaningful raise without the sales tax.
“We’re talking about a tax that generated $24 million. We do not have that revenue available to make a significant difference,” Murphy said.
But board member Kellie Hennesey Dickerson says she understands why the tax didn't pass and insists that there are other ways to give teachers a raise.
“A tax should be a last resort," Dickerson said. “I believe we can cut and budget and sacrifice and make this happen sooner rather than later.
Regardless, teachers say they want transparency from the board, with things getting heated during the meeting Thursday.
The superintendent recently released some items that would change teachers' schedules because the tax failed. They include possibly ending the school year early and a four-day workweek.
These ideas will be talked about in the future, but other proposals like discontinuing after-school clubs were not popular. Teachers say they want to keep them because they help students, but they want to be compensated for it.
There will be other meetings in the future to talk about some of the superintendent's proposals. In the meantime, board members say they're adamant about getting teachers the pay they deserve.
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