Bossier schools’ interim leader looks ahead as district seeks superintendent

Voters face decisions May 4 on increasing teachers’ and staffers’ starting pay, providing funding for technology upgrades

Bossier School District interim superintendent

BENTON, LA (KSLA) - Bossier Parish School District is in its first full week under new leadership after the sudden retirement of its superintendent.

Mitch Downey, assistant superintendent of administration, took over as interim superintendent last week.

Board member Glen Bullard’s motion Thursday, followed by a unanimous vote, made Downey the interim superintendent, culminating a tumultuous week for the School District following the sudden retirement of Superintendent Scott Smith, who’s under federal investigation.

Downey enjoys a lot of support.

“The Bossier school system will be in great hands as he leads them into this process of finding a new superintendent,” said Jackie Lansdale, president of the teachers union Red River United.

Downey took a few moments Monday to discuss what’s ahead for Bossier, including the big challenge all school districts face - personnel, especially when it comes to the teaching staff.

"We try to find the best and get them to come to Bossier Parish. Then we have to try to keep them."

That’s where the importance of May 4 comes in, with two property tax proposals on the election ballot.

One would increase teachers’ starting pay by $7,200 a year - to about $50,000 annually - to keep Bossier at a rate competitive with that paid by other Northwest Louisiana school districts.

“There’s a lot of competition for those people and, rightly so, because they have a direct effect on the students in the classroom,” Downey said.

"The most profound effect is a quality teacher."

The tax measure also would increase starting salaries for support staffers by $3,000 a year.

"All of us have to prioritize what's important to us. And I would hope that our children are at the top of the list."

The other property tax proposition would create a stable funding source for technology upgrades, described as critical for Bossier schools.

WHAT’S NEXT

  • March 20 is the deadline to apply for the Bossier schools superintendent post.
  • The first round of interviews will be conducted and the finalists will be named the week of April 15.
  • Naming a new superintendent will take place the week of April 22.
  • Interim Superintendent Mitch Downey said he is a candidate for the permanent position.

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