Lafayette teachers may get extra $2,200 payday

Healthy sales tax collections over the past year could mean teachers and other eligible Lafayette Parish school system employees receive an extra paycheck of about $2,200 next month — the largest payout in the history of a 2002 half-cent sales tax dedicated to teacher pay and support, a district official said.

Collections from the 2002 sales tax totaled about $26 million last fiscal year and after expenditures and financial commitments for the current fiscal year, the fund shows $7 million in reserves will be available for distribution to about 2,400 employees, Billy Guidry, district chief financial officer, said.

A Blue Ribbon Committee of school system employees and community members met Thursday and agreed to recommend that the School Board approve the distribution of the $7 million — which translates to about $2,200 for more than 2,400 eligible employees.

In addition to classroom teachers, 11 other employee positions are eligible for the extra pay based on either the administrative plan developed when the tax passed or by School Board approval based on the committee’s recommendation.

The group debated for about an hour whether some employees who don’t teach in the classroom, such as data analysts or instructional strategists, should be eligible for the reserve payout.

The positions are held by certified teachers who moved out of the classroom to provide instructional support to teachers.

Clarification on which employees should be considered “classroom teachers” under the administrative plan is needed, especially as new titles are given to existing positions or as new positions are created, committee member and teacher Karen Martin said.

The group did not make any recommendations related to eligibility, but suggested that the board more clearly define eligibility criteria for new positions.

Guidry said when the tax passed, the administrative plan for the tax included the following employees: classroom teachers, librarians, assessment teachers, speech therapists, and counselors.

In 2007, audiologists, physical therapists, occupational therapists, social workers, and psychologists were added and in 2008, ROTC instructors were added, Guidry said.

All the positions ­— even though they don’t teach in the classroom — are paid on a teacher’s pay schedule, Guidry said.