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Calcasieu Parish voters to decide on half-cent sales tax to fund raises for teachers, staff

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LAKE CHARLES, Louisiana — With teacher pay lagging behind the majority of school districts in the state, Calcasieu Parish voters will decide next week whether to approve a parish-wide half-cent sales tax to fund salary increases for teachers and support workers.

A special election will be held May 2 to determine whether to give a $4,000 raise to teachers and a 10 percent raise to support staff, which includes bus drivers, custodians and cafeteria workers, the American Press (http://bit.ly/1eOXZNb ) reports.

Comparatively low teacher pay has caused the district to increasingly rely on uncertified teachers, School Superintendent Karl Bruchhaus said.

"We are greater than 10 percent uncertified now out of our nearly 2,400 teachers, which is an all-time high," Bruchhaus said. "It's a crisis. We have to do something."

Bruchhaus said Calcasieu, which is the fifth-largest school district in Louisiana, ranks 40th out of 69 districts statewide in terms of teacher pay. The $4,000 raise would bump the district's ranking to 14th and have a noticeable difference on recruiting and retaining certified teachers, Bruchhaus said.

According to Bruchhaus, the teachers' last raise with local funds was in 2008.


Information from: American Press, http://www.americanpress.com

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