Superintendent: School paraprofessionals receive extra in paychecks

Jill Hunter is awarded Employee of the Month by Taylor & Sons.

Paraprofessionals and some other personnel in the Webster Parish school system may not receive bonus checks from the parish sales tax fund twice annually like the system’s professional staff, but they do receive the equivalent added to their monthly paychecks.

That was the message parish Superintendent of Schools Johnny Rowland delivered Monday during his remarks to board members at the close of  Monday’s meeting. Rowland was speaking in response to what he called conversations held recently with some individuals who had questions about the pay.

“We want to get the message out to our paraprofessionals that they are important and that we need them,” he said. “While the professional staff and teachers receive checks in November and June, our paraprofessionals receive an equivalent spread out as monthly income.”

Rowland said voters voted in 1969 to approve money from the school board’s sales tax income to be paid to teachers. There was no provision on that ballot, however, to pay either certain office personnel or paraprofessionals from the sales tax fund. 

“We were legally bound by what was on the (1969) ballot,” he said. “There were certain groups of employees that were not included, but it wasn’t intentional.”

But, Rowland told board members, that oversight was remedied in November, 1997, when that school board voted to pay staff and paraprofessionals an equivalent amount. Minutes from that meeting show 111 people would receive the additional money. Funding for that additional pay comes from the general fund.

School Board President Fred Evans and District 11 member Jerry Lott were serving the system when the board voted to add the equivalent pay. Evans was director of finance; Lott served as Superintendent.

“I want to extend kudos to Mr. Lott and Mr. Evans for being a part of the school system administration and school board that voted to approve that additional money for our paraprofessionals,” Rowland said.

Board Vice President Charles Strong recommended a memo be forwarded from the Superintendent’s office to paraprofessionals and others who receive the equivalency pay to help alleviate any misunderstanding.  

In other business Monday, school board members:

• Approved fiscal year 2022-2023 budgets totaling roughly $85 million.

• Approved a number of expenditures from various school maintenance funds including $15,760 to replace compressors and inverter boards at Central Elementary; $64,969 for 22 Promethean panels at Central Elementary; $23,150 to purchase Chromebooks and accessories at Central Elementary; and $21,500 for tree removal around the football stadium area at North Webster Jr. High.

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