GONZALES — The Ascension Parish School Board on Tuesday adopted a nearly $220 million budget that includes a 3 percent pay raise for its 2,800 full-time employees.
The pay increase is the first permanent hike for system employees since 2008.
Board President Troy Gautreau Sr. said the raises are long overdue.
“Our test scores and performance indicators show we’re one of the top-flight school districts in the state,” he said in a committee before the board meeting. “We need to make sure our employee salaries reflect that.”
The 3 percent raise and corresponding benefits increases will cost the district $5.6 million, Gautreau said, and will be paid through increases in property tax revenues from the current fiscal year, which ends June 30.
The 2014-15 budget predicts general fund revenues of $219.8 million, $5 million more than the current year’s amended budget, which the board also approved Tuesday.
Expenditures for the next fiscal year are projected at $217.9 million, $12 million higher than the current year’s budget.
Business Services Director Diane Allison said the increase is primarily due to the pay raises, along with maintenance projects, technology investments and rising insurance costs.
In her budget statement, Allison said the system’s main challenge in 2014-15 is a familiar one: providing a high-quality education while also managing a high growth rate.
Student enrollment is expected to increase by 2 to 3 percent, or between 350 and 600 students, Allison wrote, so the system also budgeted for the hiring of 15 new teachers.
The budget also provides $25.5 million to improve 17 buildings on 16 campuses, $2.8 million in other maintenance projects and an additional $1.8 million expansion to the system’s One-to-One technology program, putting laptop or tablet computers into the hands of approximately 11,000 students.
“We’re putting our priorities in our people and in our systems to make this district the best it can be,” Gautreau said.