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Baker School Board approves teacher raises during Tuesday evening meeting

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BAKER - Baker School System teachers are now the second highest-paid teachers in the Baton Rouge area after the School Board chose to give certified teachers an $11,000 raise by a vote of 3-2.

It was something that the acting Superintendent J.T. Stroder was glad passed, telling WBRZ this move will help the school system recruit better teachers.

"Ultimately, what we're trying to do here is to make Baker a more desirable place to have more certified and qualified teachers to come and stay here," Stroder told WBRZ.

Teachers getting a raise was something that nobody, parents or board members, seemed to contest.

What they did contest was what would happen to some students and jobs in the school system should the raise take place.

The raise would cause some kids in certain middle schools, like Baker Middle, to be relocated to a different school. That is something parents at the board meeting claimed they were unaware of.

"We were blindsided," Naomi Guy, the grandmother of a student who is going to be relocated, told WBRZ.

Joyce Burges, the President of the School Board, said a notice was sent out to parents. WBRZ asked for that notice Tuesday night but has yet to obtain it.

The other issue some board members had with this raise is that this could result in some people in the school system losing their job. Stroder told WBRZ that is possible even though they are banking on some employees retiring or resigning before that can happen.

Still, it caused Clara Joseph to be skeptical about giving teachers this boost in pay.

"11 positions would be impacted. That's what I'm told," Joseph said at the meeting. This would later be confirmed by the speaker at the podium. 

As for students at certain middle schools needing to be relocated, Stroder tells WBRZ those schools currently have half the enrollment that they were designed to have.

In fact, he says these schools have less than 200 students each.

Because of that, Stroder says it would make more sense to move those students elsewhere.

"We're just kind of reorganizing to make use of the facilities we have to get some additional funding to support these raises," Stroder said.

Naomi Guy says even though she supports the raise, relocating students would affect them in negative ways. She believes there was a way to keep kids at the schools they already attend while giving teachers more money.

"It appears nobody is thinking of the kids, but the teachers do. The board doesn't have a clue," Guy said.

Stroder did tell WBRZ even though no students will be at these middle schools anymore, they won't be closed. He says if enrollment increases, students could return to learn in those buildings.

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