School bus stock file photo

File photo

Interest in working for the Tangipahoa Parish School System is already on the rise after voters approved a sales tax increase to fund $10 million in raises for all system employees.

Superintendent Melissa Stilley said she’s seen an uptick in applications and correspondence from people who want to work for the school system after employees were promised a 7% salary bump.

"I've had two people contact me personally today, the superintendent," Stilley said. "So, I know they're putting their applications in. It's really exciting because we can compete with our (neighboring) parishes now, and that's been the whole purpose of this."

A study presented to the school board in February showed Tangipahoa among the bottom few local parishes when it came to employee salaries.

"You can have the best programs, high-quality curriculum, you can have all the technology in the world, but it is the people in the classroom, the quality of the individuals driving the school bus, the quality of teachers and all those people in between that support the education of children that make a difference in the school system," Stilley said.

A parishwide vote on April 24 enacts a 15-year half-cent salary-funding sales tax hike to begin July 1.

The measure got overwhelming support, with 74% of the vote — that's 8,639 votes in favor and 3,047 against. The turnout hovered just over 14%, according to unofficial results.

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Nationally, fewer people are graduating from college with plans to work in schools. So Stilley said she welcomes the proposition's passage as the school system tries to recruit high-quality minority applicants while it works through the final stages of adecades-long desegregation case.

"This will definitely help us," Stilley said, "because the bottom line is that just as there's less and less teachers graduating from college to be teachers, there's less and less minority teachers as well. Our ability to attract the few who are graduating is even more important now than ever because we want the diversity of our staff to match the diversity of our schools."

Tangipahoa voters living in Hammond's city limits also approved another tax, renewing the Downtown Development District's 14.16-mill tax for 10 years.

A mill is $1 of tax for every $1,000 in taxable property value.

The property tax is expected to bring the Downtown Development District $317,000 annually.

The current tax expires in 2023, and the renewal begins in 2024, according to the development district.