BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) -- The last-minute addition by lawmakers of a $69 million increase to Louisiana's public school funding formula to next year's budget includes dollars for a teacher pay raise.
At least half of the money must go to boosting teacher salaries, under the provisions included in the state budget.
Senate Finance Committee Chairman Jack Donahue, R-Mandeville, said the raise will be about $578 for each certified classroom teacher in the upcoming 2013-14 school year.
Those dollars were added to the state operating budget for the fiscal year that begins July 1 as part of final negotiations between the House and the Senate. The budget was approved by lawmakers Thursday before they ended their session and went home.
House Democrats pushed for the addition, and the dollars are intended to become an annual funding increase for public schools.
"I hope that this is just the sign of a renewed commitment to public education," said Rep. John Bel Edwards, D-Amite, chairman of the House Democratic Caucus.
It will be the first growth factor added to the school funding formula in five years.
"It costs a lot more to run a school today than it did four years ago," Joyce Haynes, president of the Louisiana Association of Educators, said in a statement. "That growth factor plays a crucial part in making sure our instructional programs and student services are maintained."