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Week 6 in the Legislature

Week Six

REC Recognizes Additional Money

On Tuesday, the Revenue Estimating Conference met to consider economic projections from economist who determined that the state has more money than previously thought. They increased their revenue projections for both this year and next by hundreds of millions of dollars.

Lawmakers will now have $357 million more to spend in the current fiscal year and $320 million more to spend next year. LFT is pushing legislators to use some of this additional money to fund further increases for teachers and school employees. We can and should match the pay increase seen in 2019 ($1000 for teachers and $500 for school employees), if not exceed it.

The MFP proposal modified by BESE last week, which includes a $400 increase for classified employees and $800 for teachers/certified personnel passed through the Senate Education Committee this week. It’s unlikely that the MFP will go back to BESE for modification at this point, but we can still work to include additional pay increases in the budget, that will roll into the MFP next year.

Now more than ever, if we want to keep our dedicated teachers, we have to show them that their service is valued!

Monthly Benefit Increases for Retirees PASSES Full Legislature

Senate Bill 24 by Senator Price was approved by the full House this week – the last step for it to successfully pass through the legislature. This will increase the minimum benefit for retirees to $1,450 per month. Unfortunately, this won’t increase everyone’s monthly benefit, but it will provide an increase for those who have fallen below the poverty line. Sen. Price has expressed his intent to continue to work to increase benefits for retirees in future legislative sessions – this is a first step.

Teacher Safety in Classroom Discipline

House Bill 411 by Representative Hughes seeks to revamp school discipline procedures. While we can all support sensible, transparent and progressive discipline practices, we need to take measures to ensure that teachers and school employees are safe through that process. As currently written, this bill could take away the provision that insists that if a student is removed from the classroom three times then a parent conference be required before the student returns.

Teachers are already expected to do so much. In order to meet all the demands put on teachers, they have to be able to maintain an orderly classroom; free of disruption and distraction. Teachers can’t do it all by themselves, at a certain point parents need to be involved when there is an issue. LFT is closely working with Representative Hughes to make these modifications. No one wants to see students unfairly penalized, but we must ensure that the health and safety of teachers, school employees, and their students will be paramount.

Increased Costs for Teacher Certification

House Bill 312 by Rep. Freiberg relates to background checks for teachers seeking certification, renewal or advancement. This legislation was requested by the Louisiana Department of Education. It would mean that in addition to the “criminal history review”,“criminal background check,” and an “FBI records check” currently required prior to employment, teachers would also be required to have these checks run prior to receiving their teaching certificate. Most significantly, this legislation, which was created by the LDOE, allows the LDOE to collect fees related to the cost of these additional screenings. LFT is watching HB 312 and working with Rep. Freiberg to remove provisions of the bill that would put an additional financial burden and a duplicate of background checks on teachers.

“School Choice” Bill APPROVED by Senate Education Committee

House Bill 211 by Rep. Wright is a “school choice” bill that would allow BESE to overrule local school districts enrollment decisions and pursue additional funding for non-public schools. Moreover, it would base decisions on the faulty school letter-grade system, which is widely known to misrepresent school capabilities. On Thursday, this legislation was approved by the Senate Education Committee and the author rejected amendments that would have included charter schools. As it stands now, BESE will have the authority to overrule enrollment decisions made by traditional public schools, but not charter-public schools.

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