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State education board backs Governor's teacher pay raise plan

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BATON ROUGE - Gov. John Bel Edwards' push to give raises to public school teachers, and funding to school districts, is being supported by the state's top school board.

Weeks before the legislative session begins, Edwards has gained the backing of the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education. The plan Edwards has developed equals about $3.8 billion. A portion of that money, $101 million, would go toward teacher's pay increases.

While speaking before the board Tuesday, the Governor called increasing teacher pay his top priority when the legislative session starts in April.

In Edwards' proposed multi-year plan, he would give some staff members a down payment. Teachers would get a $1,000 raise and support staff, like janitors and cafeteria workers, would get a $500 raise.

In his plan, the per-student allocation funds would be increased. That means school districts would see $39 million to spend at their discretion on books, supplies, and technology. The governor said it will help cover the burden left by many teachers who dip into their own pockets to supply their classrooms.

Right now, with the average Louisiana teacher making less than those in neighboring states, Edwards says the state is having trouble recruiting and retaining top educators - which trickles down to the education students are receiving.

The board gave its approval of the plan on Tuesday. A final vote will take place Wednesday. If it passes the board, the plan will head to the legislature for April. 

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