Thursday, May 4, 2017 … 9:28 A.M.

When a trusted and informed Facebook Friend reached out to me about the Caddo Parish School Board’s $12.3 million salary plan for ALL employees – Central Office bosses included – I knew almost nothing about it.

I do now. My friend’s concern is very, very appropriate. This “plan” should end forthwith … and I ask everyone to do whatever they will to stop it.

Here are the main reasons this is just one more CPSB bad dream …

… As sadly typical, the CPSB is purposely giving the public – and retirees – only 30 days to do anything to protect themselves. The plan went public in the local paper on April 16th, and the CPSB intends to give us only 30 days before they vote on it.

… Then I discovered some select players had been aware and busy for much longer, including being shown a 28-page Powerpoint of the plan … without any public invitations or review.

… Then I remembered the CPSB had just last year scored a huge salary truckload of our money for employee pay. When I asked this plan’s #1 sponsor, CPSB member Barry Rachal, about that at this week’s Caddo Parish Republican luncheon, he had no specific memory of it.

That fact is a screamer: just last year, on April 9, 2016, a whopping 64% of Caddo voters approved a 10-year tax for precisely this purpose. Turnout was low, but not among CPSB employees.

Full disclosure: I voted against all the taxes on that ballot, and will until at least a dozen CPSB school “buildings” are closed and shuttered. THAT is where this money should come from.

Here is the determinative ballot language of last year:

“Parishwide school district of Caddo Parish, Louisiana … levy a special tax of 20.18-mills on all property subject to taxation … an estimated $34,314,000 … for an entire year … for a period of ten years, beginning with the year 2017 …”

… Now, the CPSB has this new employee salary raise plan, including “ … elimination of school librarians, outsourcing janitorial services, raising health insurance costs and increasing student-teacher ratios in classrooms.”

Most importantly, these raises endanger the employee insurance program, particularly frightening to retirees, who have no political voice with the CPSB.

Of the $12.3 million cost of the plan – almost 3% of the CPSB’s non-federal funds, my research shows – most of it … $8,000,000 … would be taken from the employee insurance reserve.
As to raiding that reserve, my FB Friend noted,

“That reserve came from employees, both active and retired, and it is currently at about $20 million. The insurance plan is currently stable but with as many moving parts as there are, retirees are concerned about the future health of the plan if money is removed from the reserve to help fund an employee (all active) pay raise.”

My friend is very wise. His fear, I have learned, is indisputably justified. As some of us know from hard experience, we simply cannot trust the CPSB to do what it says, and …

… this supposed “plan” is in no way binding.

As shattered and failing as this school system is, I do not believe – not for one moment – that current personnel care to endanger even one penny of benefits to system retirees.

Frankly, I think it is very, very wrong for the CPSB to pit the two groups against one another.

© 2017 Elliott Stonecipher … ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

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