LIVINGSTON PARISH, La. (BRPROUD) — The Livingston Parish School Board held their regular meeting on Thursday, March 30 where they addressed the failure of the parish-wide one-cent sales tax vote.

In response to the failed vote in Livingston Parish, 40 teachers were seen out front of where the meeting took place. Many were holding signs that said, “honk if you love teachers” and wearing t-shirts with the words, “I’m not worth a penny, help us be heard.”

Teachers from Holden High School sitting outside the board meeting demanding change

Livingston Parish Schools presented a one-cent sales tax to the entire parish to help fund a 10% pay raise for all school staff for the next 20 years.

According to Livingston Superintendent Joe Murphy, if this tax did pass, no employee would receive less than a $2,500 pay increase. If this one-cent tax was approved, it would have made the parish the highest-paying school district in the area.

It was shut down with 9,523 votes for ‘No’ and 8,176 votes for ‘Yes’ in complete but unofficial results.

Livingston Parish Public Schools announced that classes for Denham Springs High School and Southside Junior High were canceled on Thursday, March 30.

One of the teachers from Holden High School in Livingston Parish, Sandi Stanford, said many teachers staged a “sick-out.”

Many of the residents in the area, took their frustrations and concerns online. “We are an A+ school system, but our pay raise, our pay scale is an F,” said Stanford.”

Many concerned residents and staff took to the podium during Thursday night’s school board meeting where two items on the agenda were focused on the tax.

Line out the door during the Livingston Parish School Board meeting on Thursday night

“We love the community we work in, we love our students,” said Morgan House who is a member of the Louisiana Federation of Teachers in Livingston Parish.

Livingston Parish Superintendent Joe Murphy presented a proposal during the meeting to help solve the long, unpaid hours that teachers face. All principals will have the discretion to discontinue any non-essential clubs or activities that take place outside the employee’s work period when they aren’t being compensated. This could result in a change to the fluxed hours during the school year.

The current calendar for Livingston Parish Public Schools has minutes built in for weather-related dismissals. Superintended Murphy said that there has been only one weather-related cancellation this year.

As a result of the extra minutes not being used, Superintendent Murphy proposed that the school year end on May 19th, one week earlier than what was originally scheduled.

He also brought up a possible 4-day workweek, making the fifth day virtual. He noted the issue is complex and the board wants to revisit that proposal.

Superintendent Murphy said that no employee should be required to work at athletic events unless it is voluntary or if the employee is compensated at the principal’s discretion.

“I absolutely agree, I think it’s something we should look at,” said Murphy “I think it’s something that we should explore.”

The board agreed to hire a third-party consulting company to look at ways to save money.

Kellee Hennessy Dickerson, District 2, was one of the board members that voted against the tax but stands for teacher pay raises.

“I believe we can cut and sacrifice our budget,” said Dickerson. Dickerson believes that the money can come from different school departments. “I think we have to cut at least 10% from each department.”

Superintendent Murphy said, “We want our teachers to know, that we are just as angry this didn’t pass.” A question was asked during the meeting if this affected the board members’ pay and Murphy said yes.

The board approved three of the measured proposals, the parent-teacher conferences, non-essential club or activity and after-hour event proposals.