Faulk suggests freshman academy, pay increase in Central

Superintendent Michael Faulk on Monday proposed asking Central voters in November to give the school system the green light to build a new ninth-grade academy on the campus of Central High, increase pay for teachers and other personnel, renovate the former Central Middle campus and increase the Internet capacity and technology at all campuses.

Faulk presented these ideas to the Central School Board on Monday. He said the board would have two months to debate the ideas before deciding whether to place them on the Nov. 16 election ballot.

“Very ambitious and very attractive in many ways,” School Board President James Gardner said after the presentation.

Faulk is proposing two ways of financing this new spending, both of which would require voter approval.

A total of $16 million worth of new spending for the new technology, the ninth-grade academy and the renovations to the former Central Middle would come from preserving in full a 23.65-mill property tax that voters passed in 2009 for school construction. Faulk said the $16 million would be raised by selling bonds on the portion of that 23.65 millage no longer needed to pay off the construction work funded by the 2009 tax election.

Voters would be asked for permission to sell these bonds and would be presented with three propositions: $5 million for the former Central Middle work, $8.5 million for the ninth-grade academy and $2.5 million for the added technology. If voters reject these three propositions, the 23.65 mills will slowly go away over time, he said.

Faulk said he’s going to present his ideas on the former Central Middle at a Central City Council meeting at 6 p.m. Tuesday. These include placing City Hall in some of the renovated space at the former middle school.

Faulk also proposed a fourth proposition to levy a new 6-mill property tax for 10 years. It would pay for pay annual raises of $1,500 for classroom teachers; $1,000 for personnel whose job requires a college degree; $750 for support personnel who work 10 to 12 months a year and $500 for nine-month support personnel.

Faulk said that Proposition 4, if approved, would still leave Central residents with less taxation for general operations than they had when Central gained independence from the East Baton Rouge Parish school district. Revenue growth has allowed the board to shrink those property taxes from 43.43 to 36.75 mills over the past six years, he said.