GONZALES — Superintendent David Alexander asked a School Board committee Tuesday to consider granting a $1,000 annual pay raise for teachers and a $500 annual pay raise for all other district employees.

The request follows the recommendations of a consultant who last year recommended pay raises for Ascension Parish school district teachers and a broad range of support personnel.

Alexander told members of the board's personnel committee that the raises would match those that the state legislature is considering for public school faculty and employees.

"No action will be taken tonight," Alexander said. "This would cost money. If we're talking about salaries, you've got to have a recurring source of funding."

"We want some feedback from your group," he said.

The school district hired consultant Bryan Headrick, founder of the Alabama-based consulting firm LEAN Frog, last fall to analyze salary schedules and review the school district's organizational setup.

The starting pay of $43,683 for teachers in Ascension Parish is topped by pay in the adjacent school districts of Iberville at $49,706; St. James at $48,909; and St. John the Baptist at $44,118, according to Headrick.

He recommended the school district raise teacher salaries, as well as those for support personnel, to become more competitive.

Alexander said that pay raises of $1,000 for teachers and $500 for all other school employees would be an additional annual cost to the district of approximately $3.1 million, a figure that would include benefits.

He noted that the last raise for district employees was in 2013.

Alexander said he was looking for feedback from the board on the possibility of pay raises as school officials prepare a budget for the new fiscal year, which begins July 1.

"The real action is going to happen when we bring a budget to the budget committee," he said. 

Also on Tuesday, School Board members, in the full board meeting, heard of a request by the Burnside location of Veolia North America for an industrial property tax exemption for a project to increase the plant's capacity.

Veolia, which has been in Ascension Parish for 50 years, converts spent sulfuric acid into fresh, commercial quality sulfuric acid for use in refineries.

Kate MacArthur, chief executive officer of Ascension Economic Development Corp., said that of the $46 million cost of the project, $21 million is eligible for the property tax exemption.

As allowed by state regulations, Veolia is seeking an exemption of 80 percent of property taxes for five years, renewable to 10 years, if the project meets its commitment in investment. 

If approved, the exemption would total a $1.1 million abatement from school district property taxes for those 10 years, MacArthur said. 

Over the 30-year life of the project, the Veolia expansion would generate $1.6 million in property taxes for the School Board and $242,000 in sales taxes during the construction period, MacArthur said. 

The School Board will vote on Veolia's ITEP request at its next meeting, on May 28. 


Follow Ellyn Couvillion on Twitter, @EllynCouvillion.