LPSB approves two millage increases, bonus check for teachers and support staff

Members of the Lincoln Parish School Board met Tuesday night.

by Malcolm Butler

During Tuesday night’s Lincoln Parish School Board meeting, a number of agenda items were discussed and approved including a slight increase in two millages that will provide additional funds to help offset increased operating and maintenance costs.

In addition to the millage increase, the LPSB voted unanimously to pay a “retention and recruitment” bonus for all area full-time teachers and support staff as well as part-time staff.

Lincoln Parish Superintendent Ricky Durrett said the parish has preliminary approval for the bonus checks but is waiting for final approval from the state grant management.

“With the teacher shortage going on all over the country, we are trying to do something – using the stimulus money – we are trying to do something to keep the teacher we have by giving them a little bonus,” said Durrett. “If they were with us last year and are coming back this year, we are trying to reward them.”

Durrett said all full-time certified and professional staff would receive a $1,200 bonus check. Full-time support staff would receive $600 and part-time support staff would receive $480. If approved by the state, employees would receive the bonus in their October checks.

The LPSB also voted 10-0 to approve a constitutional millage tax parish-wide, moving it from 3.89 percent to 3.91 percent. This increase would gross $9,855 additional funds and would be utilized in the general fund.

The second millage increase is a maintenance and operations tax for the Simsboro district, moving it from 2.97 percent to 2.99 percent and generating an additional $1,601 that will be used for maintenance and operating solely in Simsboro.

“The (increases) were very minimal but we needed to roll them forward to give us a little bit of extra for electrical bills, gas bills and things like that,” said Durrett.

The state legislature allows a constitutional tax up to 5 percent although Durrett said the tax has been rolled back for a number of years.

“The costs to run buses will be enormous this year,” said Lincoln Parish Schools Chief Financial Officer Juanita Duke. “As hot as it is, what it will take to cool our schools down. Food services costs. The cost of everything is going up. We are dealing with all of that. What we did today was roll forward two millages that will help cover some of these costs.”

Durrett discussed on-going measures this summer to evaluate safety measures at all Lincoln Parish schools in an effort to “learn from what has happened at other places across the country.”

“We are being proactive and looking at our safety and security at every school,” said Durrett. “Is there anything we’ve been doing that we can do better or that we need to change. We are working closely with our sheriff’s department and our SRO officers to help with this. We are going to every school to meet with principals.”

Duke also reported that the Lincoln Parish sales tax has leveled off after seeing increases for the last year to year and a half.  

“We would love to see it continue to increase because some of our sales tax checks go to teacher salaries and different things like that,” said Durrett. “It has grown over the last 15 to 18 months, and we are certainly thankful for that. We would love to see a gradual increase continue, but we knew it would eventually level off.”

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