The Caddo Parish School Board voted on Tuesday to approve a one-time supplement of $1,000 for district employees as a thank you for their work during this difficult school year.
The Caddo Heroes Supplement is estimated to cost $6 million and is made possible through higher than estimated sales tax revenues.
“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 supplemental funds will be paid 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 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.”
In her 30 years with Caddo Schools, cafeteria manager Shelia Davis has never seen a year like this one. While school buildings were closed last March as communities worked to control the spread of COVID-19, the need to feed children did not stop. Instead, Davis led her team in providing healthy breakfasts and lunches for students throughout last spring’s stay-at-home orders and continued their efforts last 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. For dedicated 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.”