In December 2012, Act 1 was mostly upheld, but after hearing new arguments from both sides, State District Judge R. Michael Caldwell, of the 19th Judicial District Court in Baton Rouge, reversed himself just last week and ruled the tenure law unconstitutional.
So now school boards are having to turn in two plans. Their normal pay plans as they were before and their new ones that would fall under Act 1 if it is re-ruled constitutional.
“As you know and heard during your recent conference and convention, things continue to change coming out of Baton Rouge,” said Supervisor of Business Dr. Doug Chance Monday night.
Superintendent John Bourque reiterated that this compensation model can be amended at any time, like prior to the start of the new school year, if things change once again or the courts rule against it.
So Acadia Parish has decided to submit two plans, one to satisfy Act 1 and the other in case it all reverts back to normal.
“We have to submit a plan, so I move we submit this plan,” said board member Gene Daigle.
The March 5 decision by Judge Caldwell could also now throw a wrench into sweeping new teacher evaluations, which are under way in public schools for the first time and seek to decipher what teachers are ineffective, effective and highly effective. The teachers that are ranked ineffective would not be eligible for supplemental pay under the law.
Thus the need for compensation model changes for Acadia Parish, which has paid stipends to all of its teachers several times per year thanks to a sales tax passed years ago.
The changes adopted to be submitted to Baton Rouge Monday night hit six main points. They were:
1. Monday’s action supersedes and replaces any previous action with regard to Act 1 compensation or procedures either stated, implied or inferred.
2. Monday’s action reflects only the 2013-14 session, from July 1, 2013, through June 30, 2014.
3. The compensation noted is contingent upon funds being available.
4. The compensation noted may be changed by the board through board actions.
5. Under the concept of keeping things the same, compensation for new and current employees will be determined by three things – the term “years of experience” will be replaced by the term “level” on former schedules; bachelor’s degree holders will be aligned to the schedule for Category I employees and holders of degrees above the bachelor’s level will be aligned to the Category II employees; and employee compensation will be aligned to the matrix represented by “level” and “compensation” on the applicable schedule.
6. The traditional Acadia Parish schools pay cycle will be maintained, i.e., monthly as well as in December, January and June for certificated personnel and in November for support staff.
Under the new plan teachers’ stipends would go as follows:
- All teachers that are rated ineffective will not be eligible for any stipend.
- Teachers rated effective or highly effective will receive stipends. The school board has made the stipends contingent on two factors, effectiveness and demand. Acadia Parish, under federal law, is designated a demand area for teachers, thus 50 percent of the requirements are already met for teachers.
- January’s supplement has been calculated into the base compensation model, leaving only two additional supplements, December and June.
- The $1,400 reward compensations will be given to all effective and highly effective teachers, $700 each time.
- Highly effective teachers will be eligible for an additional $250 each stipend period beginning in 2014. The school board, for now, has decided to reward teachers for two consecutive semesters of rating highly effective with an additional $500.
- Furthermore, what was considered step increases in base pay will now be considered base-building compensation stipends, meaning ineffective teachers will not be eligible for these either.
The measure passed by a 6-1 vote, with board member Lynn Shamsie being the lone nay, saying he could not support anything affiliated with moves made in Baton Rouge.
Also at Monday night’s meeting, the Acadia Parish School Board approved the following measures, with board member John Suire absent from the meeting.
- Making May 27 an in-service day to better prepare teachers for the new school year’s changes by a 7-0 vote.
- Advertising for bids for school buses by a 7-0 vote.
- Advertising for bids for a used refrigerated truck for food service by a 7-0 vote.
- Approving the request from Egan Elementary for fourth grade science students to travel to Moody Gardens in Galveston, Texas, on April 25 by a 7-0 vote.
- Approving the request from Iota High for its physics and calculus students to travel to NASA Space Center in Houston, Texas, on May 10 by a 7-0 vote.
- Approving the Personnel, Insurance and Curriculum Committee’s recommendation to advertise for bids for property insurance coverage for one year by a 7-0 vote.
- Approving the Budget and Finance Committee’s recommendation regarding the resolution and property lease pursuant to the Acadia Parish Library as requested by the Acadia Parish Police Jury and Acadia Parish Library Board by a 7-0 vote.
- Approving the Budget and Finance Committee’s recommendation regarding mid-year budget revisions by a 7-0 vote.
- Approving the Budget and Finance Committee’s recommendation regarding the proposed calendar for the 2013-14 budget by a 7-0 vote.
- Approving the Budget and Finance Committee’s recommendation regarding the approval of the 2013-14 Head Start Continuation Application. The application’s recommendation needed additional changes as the automatic budget cuts that occurred in Washington could mean an approximate 5 percent decrease in funding for the Head Start program as well by a 7-0 vote.
- Approving the June 2013 contract renewals of 20 individuals at the board’s central office as well as principals and assistant principals. They were Charles Barbier, Wendy Thibodeaux, Antoinette Pete, Melanie Venable, Harvey Ward, Gibson Miller, Sondra Myers, Kimberly Cummins, Bryan Alleman, Carol Tall, Samuel Babineaux, Dana Leger, Marie Janise, Steve Duplechin, Paul DeRousselle, Paula Cutrer, Ellan Baggett, Tammy Meche, Marie Broussard and Christy Higginbotham. The contract renewals were approved by a 6-0 vote with board member James Higginbotham abstaining.
The board also set March 20 as its next committee meetings date and April 8 as its next general board meeting, as the first Monday of April, April 1, falls during spring break time.