Published Online: June 29, 2010

La. Schools Chief Urged Veto of $16M in Salary Stipends

Superintendent of Education Paul Pastorek said he asked the governor's office to veto $16 million in his budget for salary stipends for teachers, counselors, social workers and others with national certifications.

Senators added the payments into the budget bill, but Gov. Bobby Jindal stripped them with his line-item veto last week.

Pastorek said Monday that the money would have been taken from elsewhere in his department, removing more than a quarter of the $60 million in state general fund support. Paying the stipends would have required up to 265 layoffs, he said.

"We would have to just cut into the heart of what we do altogether," he said in an interview. "It would have had a catastrophic impact on the department."

In his veto, Jindal said local school districts have money available to cover the salary stipends. The state has covered some stipend costs in previous years and local school leaders have said they don't have the cash to fill the gap.

Supporters of the funding say the stipends encourage people to further their training.

"This is very disappointing, demonstrating a breathtaking lack of understanding for the effort educators have made to enhance their skills and improve our schools," Louisiana Federation of Teachers President Steve Monaghan said in a statement.

Pastorek said local school systems will be required by law to pay the $5,000 stipends for teachers and guidance counselors who reach the national certifications.

Others who were included in the Senate amendment, like school psychologists, social workers and speech pathologists, may not get stipends because Pastorek said the law doesn't require the local school systems to pick up the cost if the state doesn't pay for it.

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