Livingston Parish school board meeting to address failed tax proposal

LIVINGSTON, La. — Livingston Parish voters made it clear Saturday that they did not support a new tax — even if it is for a teacher pay raise.

The parish-wide ballot item failed with 54 percent voting against adding a one-cent sales tax and 46 percent voting in favor, according to complete but unofficial election returns. The vote failed with a measly 20 percent voter turnout.

With no parish-wide sales tax to fund a desperately needed teacher pay raise, the Livingston Parish School Board are now formulating a ‘Plan B’.

Superintendent’s Proposal

Sources tell Unfiltered With Kiran that Livingston Parish Superintendent Joe Murphy is expected to present a proposal at Thursday’s meeting on how to move forward until the 2022-23 school year ends. There are at least two items on Thursday’s agenda centered around the failure of the tax.

Murphy is reportedly proposing that parent teacher conferences are only held within the teacher’s contracted hours. All principals will have the discretion to discontinue any non-essential clubs or activities that take place outside the sponsor’s work period when they aren’t being paid. That could go in place for the rest of the school year.

Livingston Parish Schools’ current calendar has minutes built into it for weather-related dismissals. According to the superintendent, there has been only one weather-related dismissal this year.

As a result of extra minutes not being used, pending any other weather-related dismissals, Murphy is proposing that the school year end on May 19, one week earlier than planned. Dismissing a week early will still allow all schools to meet the minimum requirements for instructional minutes, according to Murphy.

Murphy added that most schools require faculty to work after-hours athletic events, either at the gate, concessions or performing other related activities outside of their contracted work hours.

As part of the proposal, Murphy said no employee should be required to work at the athletic events unless it is voluntary or the employee is being compensated at the principal’s discretion. He said the school can compensate the employee or the school could ask for parent volunteers to perform the duties.

Calls to Murphy have not been returned as of Tuesday afternoon.

Teacher sick-out?

Teachers are working with the state’s Federation of Teachers on solutions now that they will not be guaranteed a pay raise next school year. Some of their solutions are touchpoints in Murphy’s proposal and center around making sure teachers only work during contracted hours.

Many teachers who have spoken with UWK say they are not upset that they are not getting a raise. They are upset that they are being asked to do work that they are not compensated for.

Many teachers are required to work athletic events and other school events without additional pay. Teachers are also wanting compensation for covering classes for teachers who are out when there are not enough substitutes available.

UWK has also learned that at least two schools in the parish had a large number of teachers call out on Monday. We’re told that a larger teacher sick-out could be planned for Friday if their concerns are not addresses by Murphy and the school board during Thursday’s meeting.

Teachers are meeting after school this week to organize their plan that will be presented during Thursday’s board meeting, sources say. It is unclear how a teacher sick-out would impact the end of the year calendar change or how the parish would address it if it were to happen.

Thursday’s board meeting is set for 5 p.m. March 30.

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