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Pay raises for EBR educators a hot topic in heated town hall meeting

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BATON ROUGE- Dozens of teachers and parents filled the Louisiana Leadership Institute Tuesday night, making their voices heard on next years proposed school budget.

While topics like school safety and cleanliness were discussed, the conversation about pay raises for educators had the most people engaged.

"Our hard work, and moving our children forward, we definitely deserve a raise," Valencia Johnson, the President of the East Baton Rouge Association of Educators, said.

Right now, teachers in EBR schools make just under $48,000. The board hopes to give each school employee an eight-percent pay raise. Board President Dadrius Lanus says there is still work to do on the budget to make sure all the issues are addressed.

"We are going to comb through and make sure we have checked every single nook and cranny to make sure we pay our people right," Lanus said.

With so many new board members, some say the eight-percent raise is a check they might not be able to cash because it was something Superintendent Sito Narcisse promised.

Johnson says she understands that to a degree, but there must be accountability from board members.

"By accepting the role, they are responsible for his action," Johnson said.

The idea of teachers getting a raise has been a major discussion, not just in EBR, but across the state. The debate over educator's salaries landed in the capital during the current legislative session. 

"My request to the legislature is for a $3,000 pay raise for the hardworking teachers across our state," Governor John Bel Edwards told the Legislature in February.

Tuesday night, many ideas were discussed on what in the budget to cut or add to help teachers get more money. Johnson says every school employee needs to be included in a potential pay raise.

"Any raise that does not include all employees is unacceptable," Johnson said.

And Lanus says, that will happen.

"We made a commitment and a promise and we are going to live up to that promise. We say it's going to include everyone and it will. You are hearing that from the President." Lanus said.

The first official budget hearing will be June 1. The board is not planning to vote on the proposed budget until June 29.

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