Education

Feb 27, 2014 8:58 PM by Tina Macias

LPSS preparing for budget shortfall

New charter schools are projected to reduce Lafayette Parish School System revenues by $71 million over the next four years, officials said during a meeting held today.

That will account for the majority of the school system's projected budget shortfalls over the next few years.

LPSS administration is recommending that the board dip into their rainy day fund by reducing the requirements of that fund from about $60 million to about $40 million. But board members said that would just be a short term solution.

"I think we should think about backing off of the turnaround plan when we're trying to figure out how to cover the cost of these charters," board member Mark Babineaux said.

Administration also recommended that the board use $2 million from 2002 sales tax revenues to pay for some teacher and counselor salaries. That would reduce teacher's bonus check and veer from the tax's purpose --lowering class size, board member Greg Awbrey said.

Three charter schools will open in August with two more slated for the coming years. Projections put more than 1,000 leaving LPSS to charter school just next year, and, with them, $9,200 in funding per student.

LPSS is only expected to recoup about a quarter of that from reduced expenses. Transportation and food costs will go down and fewer teachers will be employed. But, because it is unknown where the students will come from, the actual impact is still up in the air.

Superintendent Pat Cooper defended the charter schools.

"We got three new schools with that," Cooper said. "That's schools we didn't have to build. They're open to our students."

The board will vote on the administration's two budget-saving proposals at its March 5 meeting and budget workshops for the fiscal year that begins July 1 will begin in April.

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