LCSD makes good on back teacher pay

By HASKEL BURNS,

Two measures passed at Monday night’s meeting of the Lamar County School District Board of Trustees will make room for the reinstatement of teacher pay supplements, as well as salary scale changes to allow raises to approximately 40 district employees.

The first measure will allow the district to pay back the supplements owed to teachers, which were reduced several years ago because of budget deficits.

“It’s taken us several years to get that fully paid back, and so beginning on their contracts next year, all of that will be reinstated,” district superintendent Tess Smith said. “We’ve been working to try and fully reinstate that supplement, and we’ve done it in little pieces and parts, and we’re ready to do the final increase.”

A supplement is an amount of pay that is above the scale set by state officials for teachers.

“The state of Mississippi sets what a teacher can make, and we follow that first,” Smith said. “But if a district can pay that teacher a little bit more, we do that in the form of a supplement. Each county, they set that however, and it goes on the pay scale, and teachers are paid accordingly.”

The salary scale changes will allow the district to feature the correct scales on the employee contracts that will go out in March.

“There are about 40 staff members (affected by this) – several of them are in the (administration) building, including some mechanics and things like that,” Smith said. “We’ve been systematically going through the salary scale since I’ve been here, and when we’ve had a little bit of money, divvying out raises when we could. So this is the last segment of that – some of them have not had raises in a number of years.”

In an unrelated matter, the Mississippi Legislature recently passed a deficit appropriation that will fully fund last year’s teacher pay raise. That raise was underfunded by approximately $18 million because of a coding issue that miscalculated the total number of teachers in the state.

In other action Monday, school board members:

· Voted to name Deborah Pierce as the new president of the board, along with Terry Ingram as vice president. New board officers are usually elected every year, although Smith has proposed moving that term to two years rather than one year.

· Were advised by Board Attorney Rick Norton that officials are still waiting on a decision from the Mississippi Supreme Court on the appeal filed by the Pearl River Board of Supervisors regarding the voluntary consolidation of the Lumberton and Lamar County school districts.