CADDO PARISH, La. (KSLA) - The Caddo Parish School Board has voted to approve a one-time supplement of $1,000 for district employees as a thank you for their work during a difficult school year.
The Caddo Heroes Supplement is estimated to cost $6 million and is made possible through higher than estimated sales tax revenues.
“Well, almost within a period of days, they had to totally reformat the way they planned,” said Keith Burton, the chief academic officer of Caddo Parish Schools. The way they pulled resources together, as well as how they delivered instruction. Many of them had to incorporate within days, technology they never used before.”
“This year is one that has been unlike any other, and through it all our teachers and staff have done incredible work,” said Dr. T. Lamar Goree, superintendent of Caddo Schools. “In recent years we’ve made every effort to ensure we are providing a competitive salary and benefits package, but the work this year for those in the trenches goes beyond that. This supplement allows us to recognize and reward the individuals who were on the frontlines of helping us to keep students safe while providing instruction. Our teachers and support staff have had to completely rethink the way they perform their jobs. Through it all, they were dedicated to showing up for their students, and for that we are forever grateful.”
The funds will be sent out in June to employees who worked at least 90 percent of their scheduled workdays during the calendar year. Employees absent for workshops, trainings or due to COVID-19 would not have those days counted against the eligibility requirements.
“The supplement is a show of appreciation from the Board to the district’s employees who have gone above and beyond to meet the needs of students while facing obstacles,” said Board President John Albritton. “Teaching face-to-face while also teaching virtually and doing all of these well doubles the work taking place and our staff has taken that challenge on in the interest of children. We appreciate and recognize all of the extra effort that has gone into this year and are fortunate to have extra sales tax dollars to draw from to be able to pay it forward.”
Caddo Schools Cafeteria Manager, Sheila Davis has been with the schools for 30 years. She said she has never seen a year like this.
When schools first closed in March 2020, Davis and her team continued providing healthy breakfasts and lunches for students throughout the year and summer.
“I’ve worked the pandemic, I’ve worked the summer program, I’ve worked all this school year and I have not missed a day,” Davis said. “We really appreciate the heroes supplement we are receiving.”
Caddo’s Heroes Supplement comes as welcomed news to teachers and support staff across the district, including third-grade math teacher Claire McDonnell.
“We have been working extra hard to keep the children not only educated but safe and healthy,” McDonnell said. “We’re doing a lot extra to keep the children from getting sick, so I do feel like that extra is earned. I think we did work hard and earned it.”
Caddo is the first Board in Louisiana to approve funds to be dispersed not only to full-time and part-time employees of the district, but also any substitutes who met the outlined criteria.
“It also talks about our respect for that bus driver, that respect for that substitute teacher who came in when they didn’t have to work and who were the front-line workers involved in those classes,” Burton said. “Also, the paraprofessionals, the cafeteria worker who prepared food.”
For long-term substitute Robin McDowell this will be the first supplement in her 20 years of service with the school system in which she has been eligible.
“We have given a lot of ourselves to be here this year and it’s our time, the risk to ourselves and to our families,” McDowell said. “We’re just putting a lot into ourselves just to make this work this year but I’m proud of my fellow teachers and long-term subs who are here and dedicated to making it through.”