Jefferson Parish School Board creates millage tax task force for teacher salary raise

JEFFERSON PARISH, LA (WVUE) - Jefferson Parish school leaders are fighting for their teachers now. The parish voted down a millage tax last year that would have increased teacher pay.

With teacher groups striking across the country, Jefferson Parish elementary school teacher Kristin Harris said there was talk among her peers of doing the same. Ultimately, they decided on the kids.

"People have said this is what we need to do we need to band together…if us walking out hurts them no one's going to walk out," she said.

There are more than 50,000 students in the Jefferson Parish school system. And according to the district, they pay their teachers the least compared to surrounding parishes with a starting salary of around $40,000 a year. Harris said she loves working as a teacher, but it's getting more difficult to continue to do so.

"We spend a lot of our own money to get resources and to make sure the kids have what they need - even a field trip. I've seen teachers pay for field trips," Harris said.

Last year, the parish voted down a 8.4 millage tax that would have gone toward raising teacher salaries. Harris hopes it was a matter of people not fully understanding the tax, and not an indication of how the community views their teachers and students.

School Board President Mark Morgan said they continue to lose teachers because of the salary level.

"The struggle over teachers is something we have to win if we're voting to be successful in Jefferson Parish," Morgan said.

That's why he has convened a nine-person task force of school, community, and business leaders to research and present another millage tax for the parish to vote on in spring 2019.

"When a millage passes that money goes directly to teachers and that's what we need we need teachers to stay in our system to keep our system as good as it can be and even better every time you lose a quality teacher to another system that affects 60-90 students," said Morgan.

You can't put a price on impacting a child's life, but Harris hopes when the millage tax comes up for a vote, their vote will reflect in support of their teachers.

"With everything going on in our world today, we need people that are behind our kids we need the community to be behind our kids," said Harris.

Again, the millage will likely be on the ballot in spring 2019. Morgan says there isn't an exact percentage yet. That's something the task force will research and decide on at a later date.

Copyright 2018 WVUE. All rights reserved.