Baker School District Aims to Boost Teacher Pay with Proposed Plan, Faces School Closure Decision
By BR Weekly Press Staff
BAKER, La. - Teachers in one school district could get a big raise, but the district would have to close a school. It would be an $11,000 pay raise, moving Baker from one of the lowest starting pay to one of the highest.
There is no denying that schools in Baker need a serious boost. The overall performance of the district’s schools has left the community needing profound changes.
“Ultimately, if you are going to turn academics around, it will happen at the classroom level,” said acting Superintendent J.T. Stroder.
He proposes a plan to keep his best teachers and not lose them to neighboring districts.
“The students in Baker deserve consistency in the classroom. A big part is two-fold. One is retention. We want to keep our people. Two, we want more than a handful of applicants,” explained Stroder.
That retention means competitive pay. The starting salary for teachers in Baker is about $41,000. Stroder is proposing an $11,000 pay raise. That would increase starting pay to about $52,000 for new teachers.
“Currently, we are 11 out of 12 with teacher pay. This would move us into second place,” added Stroder.
Angela Brown, the president of the East Baton Rouge Federation of Teachers and School Employees, says the raise would bring their pay to the southern regional average.
“Teachers are like all other work employees,” said Brown. “They have bills that must be paid. To ensure that, they have to make a living wage. In Baker, they are not doing that.”
But Stroder proposes reducing the number of classroom teachers from 77 to about 58 to get there.
“We are trying to absorb as many positions as possible through retirement and attrition,” noted Stroder.
The move would increase the student/teacher ratio from 12 to one to 16 to one. Brown said that should not be an issue.
“In terms of state regulations, that is low. Most teachers would welcome that,” she pointed out.
The plan also includes consolidating all students from four to three campuses.
“Typically, there is a ratio district can operate at that balances their budget,” said Stroder.
The school board is set to meet on June 6 to consider the proposal and its budget for the next school year.