BATON ROUGE, La. (BRPROUD) – The vice president of the East Baton Rouge School Board says the current proposed budget lacks the teacher pay raise that was promised, and she’s not willing to negotiate a new contract with the superintendent early or until those raises are provided to staff.

Carla C. Powell, M. Ed. and vice president of the board, said in a statement on Saturday that budget projections that are usually sent to board members in February weren’t sent until earlier this week. She said she published the statement to provide clarity to the community as the board works on the budget and secures the future of those in the school system.

Powell said school board members and district personnel were promised a 12% pay raise over the next three years but Superintendent Sito Narcisse and his cabinet said there was an operational deficit of $31.8 million dollars with a fund balance of $111 million dollars that needs to be saved for emergencies.

Powell said a new budget was proposed after heated debates. It’s balanced but it still does not have a pay raise for teachers and staff.

On Friday, it was reported that Narcisse had applied for another job in Florida. Powell said it was determined he applied for the job on Saturday, May 13 – just before telling the board about the district budget needs.

Narcisse was hired in January 2021. The contract has a June 30, 2024 end date, and he’s required to give the board a 90-day notice if he plans to quit or have to pay damages in proportion to the number of days affected.

According to his contract, he makes a $225,000 base salary with:

  • the potential of a $10,000 bonus if the district meets specific performance goals,
  • a $3,000 annual technology stipend for a phone, laptop or other device,
  • a $ 833-a-month vehicle stipend (up to $10,000 annually),
  • a quarterly tax-sheltered annuity contribution matching 8% of his base salary (starting in July 2021),
  • medical, dental and vision benefits.

“I understand that Dr. Narcisse may be seeking other opportunities to better meet the needs of
his family. However, the fact still remains that our students, their families, and the people on the
frontline (teachers and school staff) should be a priority considering that promises have been
made to them,” Powell said.

She said there’s been pressure on the board to renegotiate a new contract with Narcisse early, during budget negotiations, when it would be appropriate to do that about six months before the contract ends.

Powell said some of those pushing for the move “have never been fully employed by the district nor do they have children who attend East Baton Rouge Parish Schools.”

The board vice president said she’s unwilling to negotiate a new contract without raises for district employees.

“I believe that the budget process and sustainable teacher pay raises should be solidified prior to engaging in the superintendent’s contract negotiation,” she said.

BRProud has reached out to the school board for comment and has not yet heard back.

Read Powell’s full statement