EFID chart

This chart below constructed from data provided by the Louisiana Legislative Auditor Report in May 2022 titled “Louisiana Public School Teachers – Teacher Qualifications and Pay – Impact on Teacher Retention and Student Performance. In July 2022, Livingston Parish Public Schools instituted a pay raise of $2,000 for teachers that is not reflected in the chart above. Other districts in the region also gave pay raises that are not indicated in the chart. A calculation of average salaries among all area school districts is not available since the most recent pay raises; however, the rankings have not changed - Livingston Parish Public Schools continues to rank last in pay in the region. Source: Data provided by the Louisiana Legislative Auditor Report in May 2022 titled “Louisiana Public School Teachers – Teacher Qualifications and Pay – Impact on Teacher Retention and Student Performance.

LIVINGSTON, La. – The Livingston Parish School Board on Thursday (Sept. 15) voted to create an Educational Facilities Improvement District (EFID) to review local funding options for improving salaries for all Livingston Parish School System employees.

The Louisiana Legislature has a “state of emergency” statute to allow school districts to create EFIDs for the purpose of addressing local funding shortages for their essential needs. The legislation recognizes that existing conditions in many school districts could be “detrimental to the learning environment of the children they serve” if not remedied.

“Livingston Parish Public Schools, like many other school districts in our state, is facing the very serious threat of maintaining a highly qualified teaching corps, along with skilled, reliable support staff, to provide our students with the quality education they deserve and need to prepare them for the 21st Century,” Superintendent Joe Murphy said.

“To remedy this growing problem, we must find a way to pay our people more, so we can effectively recruit the area’s best educators and employees and keep them in our schools for years to come,” he said.

Murphy noted that Livingston Parish Schools currently ranks No. 38 in the state for the average teacher pay; that ranking drops further down the list when comparing salaried staff members, such as bus drivers, custodians, maintenance workers, and food service workers.

Moreover, Livingston Parish Public Schools rank last in the Greater Baton Rouge Metropolitan Region for the average teacher pay.

In May 2022, the Louisiana Legislative Auditor released a report that showed the average teacher salary in Livingston Parish Public Schools was $50,243 – well below those average salaries paid in Ascension, East Baton Rouge, Iberville, West Baton Rouge, and West Feliciana parishes, as well as the Zachary and Central community school districts.

“It’s amazing to think that our school district has managed to maintain a Top 10 academic performance ranking over the years when you look at how our pay compares to other districts around us,” Murphy said.

“Over the years, we have addressed so many of our needs with ‘band aid’ solutions because we lack the funds to invest in true remedies. But those temporary fixes can’t be sustained, and we’re soon going to feel the effects of just getting by,” he added. “The most critical area is getting the number of qualified teachers and support staff we need to provide the highest quality of service to our children day to day.”

For example, the district gave its largest ever one-time local compensation package to employees earlier this year, but much of the increase paid by the district was a one-time supplement.

The state approved a $1,500 yearly increase for teachers and a $750 yearly increase for classified staff starting this school year. Livingston Schools budgeted an increase of $500 for teachers and $250 for classified staff each year. But the largest increase given -- $1,000 to all employees and a 3-percent raise on top of the increases – was a one-time only supplement.

“Every time we have an increase in sales taxes or a true savings in our budget, we try to give those dollars to our employees. But because the extra dollars may not be associated with recurring funds, we can only give them as one-time payments,” Murphy said. “While our employees may appreciate the extra money, one-time increases are not a solution to our growing problem.”

The Louisiana Legislature in 1997 passed Revised Statute 33:2740:37 for the purpose of allowing some public school boards to create special taxing districts, known as educational facilities improvement districts. Lawmakers amended the statute in 2011 to allow the school boards of all districts in the state to create EFIDs.

The statute states that the justification for creating the EFIDs is: “The legislature finds and determines that a state of emergency exists in many of the public elementary and secondary schools of respective parish and municipal school systems in the state” with respect to buildings, facilities, technology, and other learning environment conditions and factors.

“The legislature further finds that these conditions are in urgent need of being addressed and remedied and that additional local funding is desirable and essential to these ends if the children of this state are to be competitive in the work force of the twenty-first century and in the development of sustainable economic activity in this state,” according to the statute. “As a result of the foregoing, the legislature determines it essential and necessary to create special taxing district to be known as educational facilities improvement districts.”

To date, two public school boards – Tangipahoa Parish and East Baton Rouge Parish – have elected to create EFIDs to support their districts’ financial needs.

School Board President Cecil Harris explained that the new Livingston Parish EFID will be the third EFID created under the allowance of the state statute. He said the EFID will have the ability as other governmental political districts to seek local taxpayer funding for the limited purpose of supporting financial needs in the school system, most clearly, the need for higher salaries throughout the district.

Harris said the persons appointed to the EFID will be responsible for calling meetings to adopt bylaws and hold public meetings to discuss and act upon their commissioned task.

“The State Legislature has given our school district the option of creating an EFID so we can be proactive and address our district’s needs now, and not wait until we begin to see negative results – that would be too late for our children,” Harris said.

“We really are at a pivotal point in the history of our district in determining which way our future will go,” Harris said. “We must find a way as a community to invest in our people if we are going to be able to bring in and keep the best available educators and support staff in our area. The shortages are such, that we are now competing head-to-head with other districts to survive.”

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