Jefferson Parish School Board approves raises, new security measures

Incentive pay, across-the-board salary increases, new security measures and a second application period for advanced academies were all approved at Tuesday night’s Jefferson Parish Public School System board meeting.

In addition to the salary increases based on the effectiveness rating for teachers, principals and assistant principals, a one-time across-the-board increase was approved for all employees in the system, totalling about $3.3 million.

For the one-time increase, all teachers and administrators will receive an extra $600, and other employees will receive between $200 and $600.

There have not been any pay raises for the past three years, Superintendent James Meza said. Performance-based raises and stipend — for which educators can earn extra dollars for rating in the highest two categories for effectiveness as determined by the state-mandated evaluation system — will not go into effect until the 2014-2015 school year.

The board said it will go ahead with the incentive pay program, regardless of the ongoing litigation at the state level over Act 1, which was ruled unconstitutional Monday due to multiple items being included in a single bill. The school system’s new pay schedule is designed to meet the requirements of Act 1.

Under the law, teachers who are rated as “ineffective” would lose tenure and could face dismissal proceedings. New teachers would have to be rated as “highly effective” for five out of six years to earn tenure.

A $1.6 million dollar security plan was approved, which will ensure that every school has a single point of entry. The measure will fund repairing and replacing door locks, installing a camera and buzzer system and repairing and replacing perimeter fencing.

Ensuring that all entry ways and locking mechanisms are working will cost an estimated $740,600. The installation of the cameras and buzzers is estimated to cost $456,000, and an estimated $413,000 will be spent on perimeter fencing.

In December, the board voted to spend $5.4 million to install security cameras in every school.

“This proposal is part of the district’s comprehensive Safe Schools Program, which aims to prevent crime and other security threats by using strategies that range from building design to discipline policies and programs that improve school climate,” Meza said in a news release. “We are partnering with our local and parish law enforcement, emergency medical services and parish fire departments to ensure that our schools are safe environments for those who are on our campuses every day.”

A second application period for the district’s Advanced Study Academies was approved for schools with open seats and no-wait list. For families who missed the first deadline, applications will be accepted from April 1 to April 17. A list of schools, broken down by grade, with available seats as of March 1 can be found at http://www.jppss.k12.la.us.

Advanced academies currently with open seats include Airline Park Academy, Gretna No. 2 Academy (only one seat open), Marrero Academy, Metairie Academy, Ruppel Academy, Haynes Academy, Patrick Taylor Academy and Thomas Jefferson.

“As in previous years, the school board has updated its ASA admissions procedures in response to feedback from our parents and the community,” Meza said. “Since a number of our ASAs have openings in some grade levels, we want to provide families who missed the first deadline with the opportunity to apply.”

Charter contracts also were approved for two nonprofits, the Young Audiences Charter Association and Kenner Charter Academies Foundation. Both new charters are scheduled to open for the 2013-2014 school year.

The Kenner Discovery Health Sciences Academy will be located on the former campus of Maggiore Elementary School. The curriculum will focus on health and science, and the school is expected to enroll close to 400 students in grades pre-K to 6. Grades 7 and 8 will be added over the next two years.

While the application period has passed, the school is still accepting applications for available fifth-grade seats. Other grade levels can submit an application to be placed on a wait list. More information can be found at http://discoveryhsf.org.

The Young Audiences Charter School will be located on the former campus of Kate Middleton Elementary School in Gretna. The arts-focused school will serve close to 400 children grades K-3, adding a grade every year until they reach grade eight. The school currently is accepting applications and is in the process of hiring teachers. More information can be found at www.yacharterschool.org

At the end of the meeting, board member Mike Delesdenier issued a directive for a list of all surplus properties so the board can develop a strategy to use the properties or generate revenue.

During the public comment session, Jefferson Federation of Teachers President Meladie Munch requested that while spending money on other initiatives, the board also look at new ways to fund early childhood education, especially in struggling schools. “We know we have to catch them early and deal with the deficiencies they come to school with,” Munch said.