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Feb 27, 2008
Teacher pay raise, full funding for higher education formula among Jindal administration strategic investments

Baton Rouge – Commissioner of Administration Angele Davis today announced that a pay raise for public school teachers to maintain the Southern regional average and full funding of Louisiana’s Higher Education formula top the list of strategic investments for education and higher education that will be part of Governor Bobby Jindal’s Executive Budget.

Commissioner Davis will present the Executive Budget to the Joint Legislative Committee on the Budget on Friday.  This week Commissioner Davis and other state officials are highlighting budget priorities for which Gov. Jindal’s administration will seek the legislature’s approval.  Today’s announcement includes many of the budget’s priorities for K-12 and higher education, with others still under consideration and policy review.

“We must send a message throughout the state and across the country that we will capitalize on ethics reform by investing to improve educational performance at every level, from Pre-K through college, to prepare our young people with a high-quality, well-rounded education to succeed in all aspects of life,” Davis said.

“Governor Jindal’s Executive Budget proposal for funding Louisiana colleges and universities recognizes that Louisiana’s economic future is directly linked to the quality of public postsecondary education,” said Commissioner of Higher Education Joseph Savoie. “We are particularly pleased with his investment in performance-based funding, which will drive institutional improvement and provide greater accountability, and his proposals to fund dual enrollment for high school students and the Go Grant program, which helps ensure that qualified students can afford a college education.  We are also pleased that the Governor is proposing one-time funding to help eliminate the backlog of unmatched Endowed Chairs and Professorships, which are vital to improving student instruction and expanding economic development through research.”

The Louisiana Department of Education (LDE) along with the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education (BESE) offered their support for the Governor’s vision in creating greater educational opportunities for the children of Louisiana, saying:  “The Governor’s budget reflects the beginning of what we believe is a long-term commitment to support our mission to improve academic performance for all students, eliminate achievement gaps between race and class and prepare students to be effective citizens in a global market.”

“We are excited by the fact that our teachers have reached and will remain at the Southern Regional Average in pay.  We know that educators need to be compensated in a manner that shows how much we value their role in providing world class education for our state.  We are encouraged that the Governor has also shown a willingness to provide flexibility to local school districts in how they utilize funding in targeting teacher compensation in areas of greatest need,” said State Superintendent Paul Pastorek.

Mr. Pastorek continued, “We would like to thank the Governor and his administration for their leadership in assuring a quality education for our State's students.  We are particularly grateful for a significant down payment on the ‘Ensuring Literacy and Numeracy for All’ initiative.  This Statewide effort will be focused on substantially increasing student achievement in reading, writing, and mathematics by Grade 4.”

BESE President Linda Johnson remarked, “Louisiana’s ‘Literacy and Numeracy for All’ plan will build on what has already proven successful in states around the nation.  It requires substantial, high-quality professional development and support for all teachers and administrators.” 

“We are incredibly grateful for the ongoing support of Governor Jindal, Superintendent Pastorek and officials across the state of Louisiana for supporting the work of Teach For America,” said Michael Tipton, Executive Director of Teach For America, South Louisiana.  “Our 74 current teachers in South Louisiana and 126 teachers in Greater New Orleans are leading their students to incredible academic growth.  As a result of the Governor’s support, by next fall we will have 465 Corps Members working in Louisiana schools helping to close the achievement gap and provide more students with the opportunity for excellent education that they deserve.”

Among the budget’s funding requests for higher education:

$34.7 million increase (for a total of $1.3 billion) to fully fund the higher education formula in support of the operational needs of our colleges and universities.  The formula provides equitable distribution of state funds to public institutions of higher education. For twenty-five years, Louisiana’s public postsecondary institutions lagged behind their peers in terms of state financial support. This funding will ensure that Louisiana’s colleges and universities continue to be funded at a rate at least commensurate with the average of their peer institutions across the southeastern region.

$15 million for a new performance-based incentive funding pool to strengthen the postsecondary education system and make institutions more competitive.  Colleges and universities will be able to earn these funds based on measured results in focused areas of desired improvement that are linked to each institution’s specific mission.  The ultimate goal of this investment is to provide the citizens of Louisiana a continually improving quality level of postsecondary education services.

$8 million more (for a total of $13.88 million) for one-time funding to help eliminate the backlog of Endowed Chairs and Professorships. The Endowed Chairs for Eminent Scholars Program and the Endowed Professorships Program, funded annually through the Louisiana Quality Education Support Fund at $5.88 million, are designed to enhance the recruitment and retention of distinguished university faculty at institutions across Louisiana. This one-time allocation will allow Louisiana’s institutions to keep pace with demand to attract and retain the high-quality faculty who are so critical to their success.

$9.2 million in additional (for a total of $24.2 million) funding for Go Grants, Louisiana’s newest need-based financial aid program that aims to make college more affordable from students from moderate- and low-income families. Louisiana resident students who are eligible for and receive the federal Pell Grant may also be eligible for a Go Grant. The grant helps cover the difference between the actual cost of attending a public or private college in Louisiana and the amount of a student’s Pell Grant award.

$4 million is continued for the dual enrollment program, which allows 11th and 12th grade students to earn both high school and college credit by taking college-level courses. The program affords academically prepared students the opportunity to get a head start toward earning a college degree, allows students in need of remediation to develop college readiness through enrichment courses, and provides work skills training to students planning to enter the workforce.

Among the budget’s funding requests for K-12 education:

$70.1 million for teacher pay raises toward maintaining the state’s average teacher salary at the Southern regional average.

$20 million in additional new flexible funding for local school districts to be able to reward outstanding educators and offer teacher incentives related to the districts’ needs.

$14 million new funding for Ensuring Literacy and Numeracy for All, a statewide effort to coordinate all current literacy and numeracy initiatives in one focused direction to increase pre-K through young adult student achievement in reading, writing, and mathematics.

$4.5 million new funding for Alternative School programs to provide additional funds to assist local school districts with a high percentage of students in need of alternative settings and programs.  These programs are designed for transitional students who are over-age, under-achieving, or disruptive in the regular setting, offering strategies to encourage students to stay in school.

$2.5 million more (for a total of $84.5 million) for LA 4 Pre-K Early Childhood Program to serve an additional 500 children in the instructional day program.

$2.5 million in new funding for the LA Leadership Excellence Fund designed to recruit, groom and build a cadre of principals prepared to turnaround chronically underperforming schools.

$1 million more funds (for a total of $1.9 million) to expand Jobs for America’s Graduates in Louisiana, to address the dropout rate in the state by providing a national research, data-driven dropout prevention and recovery program for at-risk youth.

$1 million more (for a total of $1.9 million) for the Louisiana Virtual School program that has grown from 130 students since it was established in 2000 to over 5,000 students, and which provides access to necessary courses, standards-based curriculum, and high quality teaching, utilizing a web-based platform to serve areas of the state experiencing teacher shortages for particular subjects or low student enrollments for particular courses.

$500,000 more (for a total of $968,000) for the Teach For America program, which recruits outstanding recent college graduates to teach for two years in low-income areas around the United States, to expand service into Pointe Coupee parish and increase service in the New Orleans area and the southern part of the state in the parishes of St. Landry, St. Helena, St. John the Baptist, Jefferson, East Feliciana, and East Baton Rouge.

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