SHREVEPORT - Scott Smith is the superintendent of Bossier Parish Schools and he says a pay disparity exists for teachers in Bossier.

"Money talks, we realize that . And when we go out and recruit and we're trying to get the best of the best, we know that they have options."

Beginning salaries for teachers in the parish start at $42,827.00. That's more than $1700.00 less than Caddo teachers and more than $5,000.00 less than DeSoto and Webster parish teachers.

Louisiana ranks 41st in the nation when it comes to teacher pay; starting salaries for teachers sits at $40,128.00.

Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards has his sites set on teacher pay raises.

"Ten years ago, our state was paying teachers at the southern average, today, we're about $2200 below the southern average," says Edwards.

In the 2015-2016 school year, Louisiana teachers averaged $49,745.00. That's compared to $50,955.00, the average of southern states.

Governor Edwards is expected to officially propose a pay raise for teachers this week.

"We can't afford not to give a raise to our teachers and I've targeted $1000.00 per teacher and $500.00 per support person," says Edwards.

It's a move that both Caddo and Bossier parish schools supports.

"We would welcome anything that would incentivize our teachers or anyone who would want to go into the teaching profession," says Smith.

Dr. Lamar Goree, Superintendent of Caddo Parish Schools, echoes Smith.

"We, in general support anything that would provide additional compensation for our classroom teachers," says Goree.

But what about the teachers? Many have taken on extra work to help supplement their income.

"A lot of them do have to moonlight, a lot of them have second jobs, some of them even have third jobs to be able to make ends meet with a young family," says Smith.

Jackie Lansdale, president of Red River United, says when putting meetings on the calendar.. they have to take work schedules into consideration.

"When we're calling for an after school meeting or a Saturday event, we run into the fact that 'no, I cannot do that, I have to work my second job."

An online survey by the Louisiana Federation of Teachers revealed that 61% of respondents said they would support a

statewide walkout or strike in order to force lawmakers to approve pay raises.

Lansdale says the governor's plan for pay raises is a jumping off point.

"We know that a thousand dollars is a place to start right this second, but it has to be more than that, we have to see the pathway."

She also says the issue is more than just money.

"It's about the teacher who has disciplinary issues in her classroom, but because discipline is reflected in the school discipline score, the issues going on in the classroom won't be reported and will not be dealt with."

There's also the issue of attracting qualified candidates for open positions.

"If we're not competitive with teacher pay, we're going to lose those teachers. We're already losing them to surrounding parishes, we can't allow that to happen in Bossier," says Smith.

Goree agrees that fair compensation can lead to success in the classroom.

"My grandmother used to always use an old cliché that you get what you pay for, and I do think that if we look at wanting to make sure that we have the very best teachers in front of our boys and girls in Caddo Parish, if we look at wanting to make sure we have the most prepared people to deliver instruction, sometime that may cost a little more."


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