Louisiana public school teachers will be getting a $1,000 pay raise starting next year. School support workers will get a $500 raise as well.
The House passed the bill Monday morning, which will also increase funding for the operations of school districts by $39 million.
This has been a long-time goal of Governor Edwards but was slowed by concerns from some leaders that there wasn’t enough room in the budget.
Today’s vote comes as a relief to educators who have been fighting for pay raises for a while.
“No one goes into teaching expecting to get rich, but you do expect to be able to pay your bills,” said the incoming president of the Lafayette Parish Assoc. of Educators, Julia Reed, who’s been a teacher for 7 years.
Louisiana teachers last saw a pay raise in 2013, before that, 2007. Reed says the increased funding for education is a win for educators.
“You know, you’re not as effective of a teacher if you’re constantly having to hustle on the side just to put food on the table for your own children,” she said, which is the reality for many teachers, especially those who are single parents.
The average pay for Louisiana teachers is about $50,000 per year, which is about $2,200 below the regional average.
Gov. Edwards tweeted Monday morning “We have a chance to invest in education at every level, from early childhood through higher education. We’re heading in the right direction.”
The funding is a $140 million increase from this year’s budget. Reed says this can help teachers like herself, who often have to dip into their own pockets for supplies.
“I teach at a school with a lot of students who are in poverty or experience poverty, homelessness and they may not be able to pay their school fees. And I’m not going to let a pencil stand between a kid and education because no one at home can buy them a pencil,” said the fifth-grade teacher.
The vote to fund more for education comes just three days before the end of the legislative session.
But Reed says there is still some work to be done.
“$1,000 is a good start. We are several thousand dollars below the southern regional average. So it is nice to receive it and it will go a long way in a lot of households, but it can be eaten up by other things, like taxes and healthcare,” she said.