Today, the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education finalized their MFP Proposal – the funding formula for Louisiana Public Schools. LFT president Larry Carter testified before the board, highlighting the concerns of thousands of educators across the state who often consider leaving their job because of low pay and substandard working conditions. He asked the Board to improve upon what was recommended by the MFP Task Force and the Louisiana Department of Education (LDOE) and boost funding for teacher and school employee raises. He asked the board to pass a raise of at least $4,000 for teachers and $2,000 for school support staff.
With little discussion and no debate, the Board passed the MFP proposal recommended by LDOE. This MFP proposal would give teachers a $2,000 raise as well as certain teachers a $1,000 stipend (the stipend would apply to teachers who are in a critical shortage area, rated highly effective, working in high needs schools and/or those working as part of the teacher leadership team). Despite some media reports, this is not a $3,000 pay hike. A stipend isn’t guaranteed from one year to the next and it could be taken away for any number of reasons.
Support staff would only get a $1,000 raise under this proposal.
A small amount of funding in the MFP proposal is dedicated to supporting Louisiana Workforce Apprenticeships and Ecole Pointe-au-Chien, as well as $21.5 million for school district operational costs.
Unfortunately, State Superintendent Cade Brumley has misrepresented this proposal as a $3,000 teacher pay hike, but a stipend and a pay raise are very different things. Stipends can be taken away – raises cannot.
Despite marginal increases in years past, like the one proposed by BESE today, Louisiana continues to fall behind the Southern Regional average for teacher salaries. Last year the gap was roughly $3,500, but Louisiana has fallen further behind since last year, so today the gap is even larger. The $1,000 stipend in BESE’s proposal won’t provide teachers with the financial security of a raise and it won't help us reach the Southern Regional average, because it isn't a permanent salary increase.
BESE also voted to include a letter to the legislature alongside their MFP proposal. In this letter, they say that if the Revenue Estimating Conference (REC) recognizes additional funding in May it should go towards providing additional funding in level 1 – which is the portion of the MFP dedicated to block grants for local school districts to use at their discretion. In the Governor’s budget proposal, he said that this additional funding should go towards further salary increases.
Last year, BESE and the Governor agreed that further revenue recognized by the REC during the legislative session should go towards salary increases, but the legislature refused. The debate will continue when the legislative session begins on April 10th and LFT will continue to support any additional funding going towards raises for teachers and school employees.
Now, the MFP proposal moves to the legislature. The legislature cannot amend BESE’s proposal, they can only vote it up or down. If they vote it down, it goes back to BESE for amendments. If the MFP proposal is not successfully passed in the legislature, there will be no funding increases for teacher raises or school funding.
LFT will continue to fight for the largest possible raise for our members. Our schools desperately need highly paid and highly respected education professionals – it is what is best for the kids and the community as a whole. If you haven’t already taken our Compensation Survey, please do so now. The results will inform our legislative agenda and policy positions throughout the legislative session, as well as our political endorsements in the fall. Keep an eye out for next week’s survey on School Safety.