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Louisiana: Details on the 2022-23 St. Tammany Pay Raise

May 16, 2022

The St. Tammany Federation (Louisiana) has posted a concise summary of the financial opener concerning 2022-23 teacher and staff raises. In short, for classroom teachers, the local raise, combined with the state raise of $1500 is projected to be roughly $4000. (Note that Governor Edwards hopes to increase state portion to $2000).

Teachers and other education personnel are underpaid. Believe me, I get it. I also understand the temptation to pooh-pooh this current St. Tammany result when comparing it to, say, St. Charles Parish’s announced 10 percent local raise, not including the state portion. Nevertheless, to discount the work done by St. Tammany union leadership in this effort and in previous months prior to official negotiations being open would be sorely remiss. Therefore, in an effort to allow readers a snapshot into what has actually transpired with this latest St. Tammany pay increase, I offer the backstory for salary and benefit negotiations that began sooner than scheduled and already have future windows scheduled for continued negotiations.

The following information is posted on the St. Tammany Federation website. I include it here for convenience– and to interject a bit of my own narrative.

We begin with a bit of background on the efforts expended by the union on behalf of St. Tammany teachers and support staff since Brant Osborn became union president in May 2021, elected along with his slate (with a special thanks to St. Tammany bus drivers). (Note also the call to action, which is always a good place for any disgruntled employees to productively focus their upset):

Next comes two decades of St. Tammany teacher/para pay history, including nothing added to increase salary for four years (2012-13, 2013-14, 2016-17, 2020-21) (Yes, in 2020-21, we had some sizeable stipends, but stipends are a one-time expenditure that do not contribute to a professional’s salary base and are therefore appealing to management because the funding commitment is not recurring– including as a part of future retirement pay.)

Note that the 2022-23 raise is based off of step zero plus $1000 (the equivalent of two “steps,” of $500 for each of two years of 181-day service, as noted on 2021-22 salary schedule). The chart below includes a breakdown of the total expected raise for teachers starting before 2014-15. The first row is the anticipated total raise in 2022-23 for a teacher working 181 days and who began prior to June 30, 2014, with a masters degree. The remaining rows apply to teachers hired prior to June 30, 2014, who work different numbers of days and who hold a bachelors. (Beyond 181 days, the compensation is adjusted according to days working more than the 181-day base.)

The salary increase details and calculations included in this work are based upon two phone calls I had with Federation EVP Stephanie Underwood prior to writing this post.

To determine the base 3 percent increase, one can consult the 2021-22 salary schedule in order to calculate 3 percent of the step zero pay for date of hire (before June 30, 2014, or after) and for a given advanced degree. For example, a teacher works 181 days and who had a masters plus 30 PRIOR TO JUNE 30, 2014, will receive an additional $1467 (48,900 x .03 = 1467) plus $1000 for the two steps, which is $2467 from the district and (currently) $1500 from the state, for a total increase of $3967.

Here are the step zero schedules for different numbers of annual working days and degree levels, for quick access in performing the 3-percent calculations (keep in mind the two-step increase is more for more days worked above 181 days; see above chart for exact amounts.)

First, for those hired prior to June 30, 2014 AND who earned given advanced degrees prior to June 30, 2014 AND who work a certain number of days beyond 181:

Next, step zero for teachers hired prior to June 30, 2014 and who earned certain advanced degrees after June 30, 2014 while possibly having one or more advanced degrees prior to June 30, 2014, all of whom work for 181 days:

There are so many different “step zero” possibilities because teachers hired prior to June 30, 2014, were at different places with their advanced degrees when the rules changed to pay less (only $500) per advanced degree. This is a Jindal et al., ed-reform ugliness that said advanced degrees didn’t matter to student test score outcomes, so let’s go on the cheap with rewarding educational advancement of classroom teachers.

The 2021-22 salary schedule includes numerous variations based on being hired either prior to or after June 30, 2014, and holding what advanced degrees prior AND which advanced degrees were earned after AND for varied length of the work year. It would be awkward for me to post all of these variations in this post, but I will offer a couple more. Read carefully to see if it applies to you situation. For example, a teacher hired prior to June 30, 2014, with a bachelors AND who now holds an EDS AND who works 189 days would base the 3 percent raise off of a step zero salary of $49,637:

Another example: A teacher who was hired prior to June 30, 2014, with a masters at the time of hire but who now holds a PhD AND who works 194 days would base the 3 percent raise off of $52,947. (Again, keep in mind that the additional raise for “two steps” is adjusted to include more than $1000 for working beyond 181 days):

As for the teachers hired after June 30, 2014, the step zero is as follows for given numbers of days worked:

The St. Tammany Federation also notes that it wanted to have the 3 percent raise based off of a teacher’s current base salary (not step zero), but according to Federation EVP Stephanie Underwood, the St. Tammany school board pointed out that the compensation formula prevented the weighting of experience as more than 50 percent of total salary, as required in Louisiana’s Act 1 (the “teacher tenure” law brought to us by the legislature under Bobby Jindal):

And so, our raises begin at step zero, which ignores experience.

Its all a game.

The Federation wants to change the law– another opportunity for the dissatisfied to channel that energy toward visible and vocal action.

Other benefits for all employees, including divvying up half of any budget surplus funds in the form of stipends AND no raising of health insurance premiums or lowering of health benefits as a corner-cutting measure:

More benefits for all teachers– including effectiveness stipend (not just “highly effective”) raised to $1000 and classroom supply reimbursement raised to $500:

The Federation also asked for incentives for teachers of SWE (students with exceptionalities), based on the SWE teacher being certified or OFAT (out-of-field authorized):

I am happy for the SWE teachers to get a little something extra. I would not want to complete all of those IEPs. My SWE paperwork as a regular-ed teacher is enough. I am also fine with this token incentive for teachers in high-needs areas. Helping one helps relieve pressure on the entire system:

As for benefits and plans of action for support staff:

And now, here’s the truth of it: None of this would have happened without the Federation’s hard work.

The Federation under Brant Osborn’s leadership is not the same old union colluding with management. It’s a new day, and the information in this post proves it.

Yes, you may want more. I want more. So, don’t just criticize from the social media bleachers. Join the fight. Join the union. Pound the pavement, be visible; actively work toward change. Bothered by St. Charles’ 10 percent teacher raise? Let your school board members know. Better still, help elect a school board more amenable to the fiscal needs and well being of its teachers in the long term.


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