‘It’s not even money for gas’: Teachers react to Governor Edwards’ pay raise proposal

BATON ROUGE, La. (WAFB) – Louisiana teachers could get a pay raise if Governor Edwards gets his budget wish list.

In his budget proposal to lawmakers, Gov. John Bel Edwards hopes to see a pay rise that includes an additional $1,500 for K-12 teachers and $750 for school support staff.

East Baton Rouge teachers called this a step in the right direction, but is it enough?

“Teachers would get maybe $75 more per paycheck, and for support staff it would be $37 more,” Antronie Williams said.

Williams is a secretary at a school in East Baton Rouge.

She said if you spread it over nine months, it’s barely a drop in the ocean.

“It’s not even gas money. The gas rises steadily. You carry around trying to get to work. It’s not enough,” Williams said.

Williams said state leaders need to open their pocketbooks and pay teachers if they want to fix the problems facing schools across the state.

She pointed to the continued shortage of teachers, talent leaving the state and young people choosing not to break into the field.

Teachers like Jaret Guidry are starting to feel the pressure.

“There are days when I’m hanging by a thread. I have my little resume done, and I have my resignation letter, and sometimes I look at it. I haven’t submitted yet, because I love kids and I love what I do, but I don’t always love the work,” Guidry said.

She said nearly a dozen of her colleagues have landed second jobs just to make ends meet.

“Off the top of my head? 10, and that’s just in my tight friendship circle,” Guidry said.

The increase would bring our teachers closer to the Southern regional average, which is about $55,000. The current average teacher salary in Louisiana is just over $51,000.

“I know he wants to get us to the starting average, but that’s just the starting point,” said Kirk Green, a middle school teacher. We have a job. We are professionals. We should be paid, treated and respected like this.

They believe that one day we will reach that average, it’s just a matter of when it gets teachers on the fence.

“Is the southern regional average within reach? I think that’s probably the case. Are we going to get there? I don’t think we are,” Williams said.

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