Teachers Win Raises in La.’s New Budget
Nearly 10 months after Hurricane Katrina struck the Gulf Coast of Louisiana, state lawmakers approved a $26.7 billion budget that delivers teachers a pay raise of $1,500.
The budget also makes key changes to how funding is distributed to districts most severely affected by Hurricanes Katrina and Rita.
The goal of those changes is to ease the financial impact from the loss of displaced students and allow the districts to maintain more stable budgets.
The law also creates a special formula for providing state and local aid to New Orleans schools taken over by the state.
Overall state spending on K-12 education rose from $2.85 billion in fiscal 2006 to $3.01 billion in the new fiscal year, or an increase of 5.6%.
Gov. Kathleen Babineaux Blanco, a Democrat, highlighted the pay raise in her June 19 speech at the end of the legislature’s special session on the budget.
“Since the day I took office, I have worked to increase teacher pay,” she said. “I am proud that we passed a budget that gives teachers and faculty a long-overdue pay raise.”
The budget also sets up a new funding system for schools in the state’s Recovery School District, which will oversee at least 37 New Orleans schools next year, including some operated directly by the state and some chartered to outside organizations. (56 New Orleans Schools to Accept Students for New Year," this issue.)
In essence, state and local funding will follow individual students to the schools they select, with weights being added for several categories of special education students.
For instance, a school will receive an estimated $5,730 for each regular education student. But for students with disabilities, that amount will increase, depending on the severity of the disability. For each student a school admits that is in what is called the Level 2 disability category, the school will receive an estimated $11,062 per student.
Robin G. Jarvis, the acting superintendent for the recovery district, suggested that the state’s approach is an innovative method of school finance in Louisiana.
“To my knowledge, no other district in the state is doing this,” Ms. Jarvis said. “We felt like this is a model that would encourage people to serve those higher-need special education students.”
Vol. 25, Issue 42, Page 25