By Pat Culverhouse
Webster Parish school personnel will be receiving annual stipends according to Louisiana Department of Education (LDOE) guidelines, with one previously excluded group of educators added to the mix.
Parish School Board members unanimously approved guidelines for the LDOE stipend Monday during a special meeting, giving the okay to payments of $2,000 to “exempt” employees and $1,000 for “non-exempt” workers. Exempt employees are certified; non-exempt are support staff.
Business Director Crevonne Odom informed board members that LDOE guidelines has previously omitted from the stipend one group of school system employees.
“Our pre-school teachers are not included in the guidelines from the LDOE at all,” Odom said. “We’ve experienced leaving out people going strictly by the LDOE and it’s sometime been contentious. To prohibit would send a bad signal to preschool teachers and I believe we should include them.”
Board members voted unanimously to approve the stipend with the addition of pre-school personnel. Those teachers will receive $2,000.
Other guidelines for eligibility in the stipend program include:
• Employees must be full-time with Webster Parish school system. No contract workers qualify.
• Retirees who retired during current fiscal are eligible and will receive 100 percent of stipend; all other retirees ineligible.
• Employees with hire date less than their contract year will receive prorated amount.
• Employees who resign or are terminated before Dec. 1 are not eligible for any portion of stipend.
• Employees who receive stipend but resign or are terminated before the end of their contract year will receive pro-rated amount. Stipend will be adjusted in balance of contract.
• Five-hour custodians will receive prorated portion of stipend.
Asked about the total cost of the stipends, Odom said the total package from the state is $1,456,842 for qualified personnel as designated by the LDOE.
“Adding preschool to the package means we will spend a little more than that,” she answered. “This is a minimum figure…the state does not say you can’t give more.”
Money from the state will be placed in the general fund, and any stipend expenditure overage will also come from the general fund, Odom said.
While the board did not give an exact date, stipends should be received before the end of the year – on or around December 19, 2023.