NEW ROADS — Voters in Pointe Coupee Parish on April 9 will be presented with a 10-year, 10-mill property tax proposition that school officials say should generate the revenue needed to increase teacher pay and make facility upgrades in the near future.
During a special-called meeting Thursday night, the School Board unanimously approved a resolution regarding the property tax proposal after nearly three hours of debate and multiple votes on various millage proposals the board thought could get voter approval this spring.
Should voters approve the 10-mill hike, which was approved in a 6-2 vote by the board, it would generate an additional $4.5 million annually for the school system over the next 10 years.
Property owners are currently levied at 54.5 mills annually — 16.5 of which creates revenue for the school district’s coffers.
Schools Superintendent Kevin Lemoine said 7.1 mills of the 10-mill proposal would be dedicated toward a $5,000 salary increase for teachers and a $2,250 pay bump for the district’s support staff.
The revenue generated by the remaining 2.9 mills would go toward facility and infrastructure improvements throughout the district.
Teachers in Pointe Coupee first approached the School Board last year about pay increases, noting that the school district was losing high numbers of teachers annually to nearby districts with higher teacher salaries.
Beginning teachers with no experience and a bachelor’s degree in Pointe Coupee Parish earn $38,392 a year — well below the $47,024 in Iberville, $42,733 in West Baton Rouge and $44,972 in West Feliciana parishes for first-year teachers.
There are only two school districts in Louisiana where annual salaries for first-time teachers are less than Pointe Coupee’s: St. Landry and Avoyelles parishes, where teachers earn $38,000 and $36,160 a year, respectively.
“We put a committee together last year, and they discovered we can’t do a pay increase for teachers without an increase in revenue,” Pointe Coupee board member Frank Aguillard said.
Board member James Cline tried to get the board to approve his proposal for a 13.4-millage increase, which he said would put the school district in a better competitive position to some surrounding districts that also are currently entertaining tax proposals to increase teacher pay.
“If we just pass the minimum, and they pass theirs, we’ll be right back where we’re at now,” he said. “Let’s see what the public wants us to do.”
Cline’s motion failed with a tie vote.
“If we go too high … we’re going to have a lot of people fighting against that millage,” said board president Anita LeJeune.
Follow Terry Jones on Twitter, @tjonesreporter.