Last week, sign language interpreters who provide services to Lafayette Parish students received a slight pay raise as part of an ongoing review aimed at keeping hard-to-fill support jobs filled.

The review of pay for support personnel is a work in progress and is still very much dependent upon budget constraints, said Bruce Leininger, the school system’s human resources director.

The pay review for support personnel is needed, school administrators say, to ensure the pay for support personnel positions is competitive with the job market.

The reclassification of the 22 interpreter positions led to a pay increase that had only a minor affect on the general fund since 88 percent, or $93,517, of the costs are being paid for by federal special education funds. The school system’s general fund budget is only on the hook for $9,273 for the pay raises..

Leininger stressed that the review of current pay grade levels assigned to jobs in the school system doesn’t necessarily mean pay raises are coming down the pipeline for other employees.

For example, the board did not consider a proposed reclassification for a “plumber III” position that would have given the sole employee in that position a $3,464 raise paid from the general fund.

“For those interpreters, they were far behind the power curve regarding their pay,” Leininger said. “It was becoming difficult to find them.”

The salary range of the interpreters who provide services to students during their classes is between $19,690 to $29,408, depending on their experience and educational attainment. The raises ranged between $2,577 to $6,098 — depending on the same factors.

The adjustment is in line with current market rates for the interpretation services, Leininger said.

The board made its decision on the pay increase at an Oct. 7 meeting that more than a dozen interpreters attended. Together, the group signed the Pledge of Allegiance as it was recited by other meeting attendees before the meeting, and interpreters like Jana Broussard took turns interpreting the proceedings of the meeting.

Leininger said the special education department supervisor Bart Thibodeaux brought up the issue of competitive pay among the interpreters after one of the employees left the school system. It was difficult to find a replacement, and the cost to hire an external agency was too expensive, Leininger said.

Follow Marsha Sills on Twitter, @Marsha_Sills.