LIVINGSTON — The Livingston Parish School Board voted 6-1 Thursday night to freeze all district salaries and eliminate three work days for the 2011-12 fiscal year in a bid to cut costs from the financially strapped system.
The moves mean that some employees will not receive scheduled pay raises, called “step raises,” Superintendent Bill Spear said.
Employees will also work three fewer days during the school year, Spear said.
For teachers, those days will be Jan. 6 and May 23, which are staff development days; and Oct. 14, a parent-teacher conference day.
The cuts would not have an effect on students’ time in their classrooms, Spear said.
Other departments may use different days to ensure that each employee works three fewer days, Spear said.
The two cuts would account for savings of approximately $3.7 million during the next year, according to a School Board news release.
The cuts are necessary to avoid layoffs, Spear said
Buddy Mincey cast the lone dissenting vote. Board members Milton Hughes and Keith Martin were absent.
“We have identified some other areas that I felt like should have been reduced,” Mincey said in explaining his vote. “I think they should have been addressed before or come up at the same time as this.”
Mincey refused to elaborate on what other areas he feels should be cut.
Spear presented the moves to the board in a prepared statement, during which he attributed the district’s shortfall to the end of federal stimulus funding, increases in teacher retirement contributions, and the removal of the 2.75-percent “growth factor” increase in the Minimum Foundation Program, the state’s main education-funding vehicle.
“In coming to this difficult decision for this recommendation to the board, it came down to two things: layoff teachers or freezing salaries and eliminating three work days,” Spear said in his statement.
Nearly 40 minutes of discussion followed, during which Mike Curtis, an employee who heads sales tax collections for the parish, asked board members if they were comfortable voting for the recommendation without having seen next year’s sales tax projections and having only seven of nine members present.
Spear responded by asking the system’s business manager, Terry Hughes, if she was comfortable with the numbers presented. She was, she said.
The days and raises could be restored if funds became available, Spear said.
Board member Sid Kinchen asked that the motion be amended to prioritize the return of the step raises, which the board accepted.