Ascension school employees get $6 million one-time pay hike

The Ascension Parish School Board on Tuesday handed out salary increases to district employees amounting to about $6 million.

The money, listed as a “one-time pay increase” and not a permanent pay raise, was approved unanimously.

“It’s a very simple equation as to what makes the Ascension Parish school system great,” Superintendent Patrice Pujol said. “It’s the people. It’s the people who day in and day out serve our children in whatever capacity they can that make our system great.”

Pujol said district officials would continue to look at the feasibility of improving the salary structure in the future.

School Board President Troy Gautreau thanked the district’s employees and credited them for helping the School Board meet its mission of providing every student the quality of education needed to succeed in an ever-changing world.

Any district employee whose job requires a teaching certificate will receive a check for $1,750, Pujol said. Support staff who do not require teaching certificates will receive $1,000 checks.

Other items coming before the board included:

ASCENSION FUND: The board thanked an organization that has donated more than $1 million to schools and teachers during the past two decades.

The Ascension Fund, a local nonprofit established in 1991, has handed out more than 1,000 grants worth $1.2 million since then. Gautreau said it was past time for the board to recognize the nonprofit for all it does on behalf of the district’s schools.

“It makes Ascension Parish stand out above all other districts that we have folks like the Ascension Fund,” Gautreau said.

The fund is trying to raise $200,000 to give out in its next round of grants in August. New grant applications are being accepted through April for the 2013-2014 school year. Fund officials are hoping to hand out 50 grant awards during the next cycle.

The Rotary Club of Gonzales, which established the Ascension Fund, is holding a fundraiser on Thursday to generate money for the grants. The annual “Have a Steak in Education” dinner will be held at 6:30 p.m. Thursday at the Gonzales Civic Center. Tickets are $100 per couple and can be purchased by calling (225) 644-8688.

SCHOOL FOR SALE: The board unanimously approved a resolution to place the old Lowery Middle School property on La. 1 in Donaldsonville up for sale.

The school property is empty, and the board ruled that it is surplus property. The property will be sold via sealed bids, and the minimum bid must be $595,000. That’s 85 percent of the property’s appraised value as of July 20, 2011.