Pay raises, uniform revisions coming to Rapides Parish schools

The Rapides Parish School Board has approved several new policies for the 2023-2024 school year.
Published: May. 2, 2023 at 9:47 PM CDT|Updated: May. 4, 2023 at 8:55 AM CDT
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RAPIDES PARISH, La. (KALB) - School uniforms, teacher pay and the “Better Facilities Strategic Plan” advisory committee were the items addressed at the Rapides Parish School Board meeting held on May 2.

Pay Raises

July 1 starts the fiscal year for the Rapides Parish School Board and all employees can expect a raise of at least four percent. Additionally, workers in food service and maintenance can expect a bigger increase in an effort to make their salaries competitive with workers in similar markets. Here are the full details for the raises:

“So we are really excited about those 200 plus employees getting a corrected salary schedule,” said Superintendent Jeff Powell. “We have more employees that we are going to work towards that, but for tonight, the win is that four percent pay raises across the board for all employees.”

Uniform Policy Changes

The board voted and approved revisions to the board’s uniform policy. The exact revisions changes include:

  • All “natural, protective, cultural hairstyles to include, but not limited to, afros, dreadlocks, twists, locs, braids, cornrow braids, Bantu knots, curls and hair styled to protect hair texture or cultural significance.”
  • Hair can be dyed in colors other than the “natural” colors previously listed, which were black, brunette, auburn or blonde.
  • Facial hair must be kept “neat and well groomed.”
  • Black shirts, in addition to the traditional white shirts, can be worn by students.
  • Leggings may be worn UNDER “approved bottoms.”
  • Jeans in any color only on “approved jeans days.”
  • Optional belts. If belts are worn, they cannot hang and must be threaded through loops on pants.
  • Sweatshirts or pullovers in white, black or designated school colors. They may include a school logo. Hoods cannot be worn in school buildings, and they “may not be worn in any way that creates a distraction.”
  • No house slippers.
  • Principals will be given the authority to set jeans days and whether those are free or not.

Tobacco and Vaping

The board will also be cracking down on the use of tobacco and vaping.

“The bottom line is children are not supposed to be able to purchase a vape,” said Powell. “They should not have a vape in their possession, and they should not be in school. So we ask our parents to help with that.”

Here is the full policy that was passed:

“Better Facilities Strategic Plan” Update

On the agenda was also the formation of the advisory panel that will oversee the “Better Facilities Strategic Plan,” which could potentially make Bolton High School a K-12 academic and performing arts academy. When introduced earlier this year, it did not sit well with many. Those in opposition claimed it lacked transparency and outside input, leading the board to restructure the plan, even picking the final eight members of the panel during Tuesday’s meeting. Here is the full panel:

  • Teachers
    • Rokeisha Randel
    • Jessica Waits
    • Sharon Hammond
    • Tammy Nation
  • Parents
    • Molly Townsend
    • Tori Flynn
    • Jenny Hamilton
    • Jim Clinton
  • Minority Community Stakeholders
    • Anita Hayes
    • Teresa Lewis
  • White Community Stakeholders
    • Brad Webb
    • Mackenzie Baudin

“The reason why we did this in an open meeting is to make sure that the trust is restored, and so people understand,” said Powell. “We had a lot of people apply, there were right at 100 people that applied. Whether you were a teacher, administrator, parent or community stake holder. We wanted to make sure that everybody had an equal opportunity to do that.”

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