This week, the Minimum Foundation Program (MFP) Task Force met to consider the 2023-2024 funding formula for Louisiana public schools. This task force makes a recommendation to the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education (BESE) about how to moderate the formula to provide for raises and/or school funding.
Next week, BESE will consider this recommendation and determine how large of a raise to include in their MFP proposal before sending it to the legislature for approval.
The Task Force voted to recommend a $2,000 raise for teachers, $1,000 for school support staff, which would be locked into level four of the MFP. They also voted to increase the per pupil funding for local school districts by 2.75%, in level one of the MFP. They added a caveat though: in all districts where teachers are being paid below the Southern Regional Average of $53,340, then 50% of the new level one funding must go towards teacher raises. It’s impossible to know how that additional 50% will impact teacher salaries as it will vary from district to district, but as Beth Scioneaux, Deputy Superintendent of School System Financial Services for the Louisiana Department of Education (LDOE) said at the meeting “50% of an increase may not materialize for a system because they’re losing kids, so when you tie that increase…[the raise] might be a few dollars, so you won’t make any headway mathematically. Looking at those statistics from those years we did that, it just isn’t what you think it’s going to be in the end.”
Cynthia Posey, LFT Legislative and Political Director, sits on the MFP Task Force and she made a motion for a $4,000 pay increase for teachers and $2,000 for support staff, locked into level four. Unfortunately, her proposal was voted down, but the task force’s recommendation is not binding. We need to push BESE to look beyond the recommendation and pass an MFP that actually meets the needs of our teachers, school support staff and students.
Click here to send a message to BESE, asking them to put more funding towards teacher and school employee raises.
In recent years, school districts received millions of dollars in federal funding as part of the COVID relief packages. This money has helped boost school funding across the state at a time when it was desperately needed, but meanwhile teachers and school employees have only received marginal pay increases. That is why it is especially important now that Louisiana prioritize raises for teachers and school employees over block grants for school districts. Other states have already taken this into account in their funding proposals.
This year, Arkansas is proposing a $10,000 raise, which would bring the minimum teacher pay to $50,000/year. Florida is proposing record spending for education, including raising the starting pay for teachers to $65,000/year. Texas has proposed a $15,000 pay raise for teachers and a 25% increase for support staff. Last year, Alabama passed a raise nearly $2,000 larger than what was passed in Louisiana and Mississippi approved an increase averaging over $5,000.
In Louisiana, lawmakers like to brag about the increases to teacher and school employee pay that have passed in recent years, but these marginal increases haven’t been enough to keep up with neighboring states. Louisiana has continued to fall further behind the Southern Regional Average for teacher pay. Moreover, premium increases by the Office of Group Benefits (OGB) have outpaced raises passed by the legislature. Last year, teacher pay was increased by an average of 3%, but OGB increased rates by 4.5%. Not to mention all the added cost of living increases that are impacting working families across Louisiana, like increased grocery bills and fuel prices. On top of everything, the LDOE passed a bill last year, that will go into effect in June, that will allow them to tax teachers for redundant background checks.
The proportion of uncertified teachers leading a classroom has grown dramatically. Now, almost a third of all teachers in Louisiana public schools are uncertified or teaching outside their area of certification. There are staffing vacancies in almost every job classification and anyone who has spent time in our schools had experienced the staffing shortage crisis first hand. We cannot continue down this path.
Every student deserves to have a fully qualified teacher, but our staffing crisis will only get worse unless we take dramatic action now, before it’s too late. BESE and the legislature must come together to finally pass the raise that Louisiana’s teachers and school employees deserve.