WPSB: 10-year salary freeze may be thawing

Webster Parish school system employees might be seeing a pay adjustment that would bring salaries back from a nearly 10-year freeze to current scales.

School Board members heard Monday a summary of a salary analysis conducted by Allen, Green & Williamson, LLP that, if approved, would roll salaries forward for more than 260 system employees, 182 of whom are teachers.

Debbie Finley, representing the firm, told the board that eligible employees could be looking at salary boosts of between $1,000 to $1,200. She also estimated the cost to the general fund at roughly $350,000, recurring annually, to support the increases.

System employees excluded in the analysis were those who had reached maximum years on the salary scales, those hired after the freeze was lifted plus contract workers, substitutes, bus drivers and bus aides.

Board President Charles Strong said system employees needed to be put back on track with salaries that would help meet cost of living increases. But, he cautioned, a conservative approach is necessary to keep the board within its operating budget.

“We want all our employees to know we’re looking for an equitable solution,” Strong said.

Board members agreed a decision on whether to accept the salary analysis and move forward with upgrading employee pay will be determined at the July meeting. If adopted, those increases would most likely be received beginning in October.

While speaking on the proposed increases, Superintendent of Schools Johnny Rowland announced the 13th check for qualifying employees would be hitting bank accounts June 16. Rowland said sales taxes, which fund the additional check, have shown a significant increase this year.

Principals of the Year for the 2022-23 school session from the three academic levels in the parish were honored during Monday’s meeting. Receiving special recognition were Jessica Spence of J.L. Jones, Elementary; Walter Ritchie, Doyline High School, Middle School; and, Dr. Rebecca Wilson, Minden High School, High School.

Students in FBLA Kamryn Goodson and Lillian Jolly, both from Lakeside High School will be going to national competition in Atlanta the last week of June.

Also during Monday’s meeting, board members approved payments from various parish maintenance and sales tax funds including:

• $45,025 to purchase playground equipment for the Pre-K playground at Central Elementary.

• $24,500 to install two new five-ton HVAC units and duct socks at Brown Upper Elementary.

• $22,247.60 to install commercial vinyl plank flooring in office suite at North Webster High School.

  $19,961.50 for a change order for additional fencing at the new Minden High School softball complex, per a request of MHS administration.

• $10,676 to paint the annex building hallway at Richardson Elementary.