St. Landry

Feb 16, 2012 11:27 PM by Shawn Kline

No furloughs, insurance cuts for St. Landry Schools

In a split decision, the St. Landry Parish School Board said furloughs are too extreme.
Facing a $4-million budget gap, St. Landry Parish Superintendent Donnie Perron suggested three cost saving measures to the school board.

The first, a two day furlough later this month. The second, cutting insurance rates to the tune of $44/person and the last, a reduction of day-to-day substitute teachers.

Perron said those three measures would save the board about $1.3-million.

Teachers consider it a win; furloughs and insurance hikes are off the table at least, for now.

"This (budget crisis) has lowered the morale of our employees and our teachers," Board Member John Miller said. "It's unbelievable."

Miller was one of the six voting against these cost saving measures, measures he says would hurt teachers the most.

"They are not responsible for the shortfall." Miller says, "I think if we start watching our practices, we're going to catch up."

Practices like frivolous spending. After reviewing just some of the numbers, the St. Landry United Coalition of Educators claims it's uncovered more than $2.5-million in mismanaged funds.
Highlighting it all with an administrative trip to San Francisco last June. That cost the board about $22,000.

"I just couldn't hardly believe it," Miller said. "I can't recall ever voting on this."

This trip, approved under the watch of former Superintendent Michael Nassif.

According to the Coalition's findings, it included round-trip airfare and a stay at the Marriott Marquis for staff development. All, after the board had officially gone broke.

"This is just the tip of the iceberg," Debbie Faul said. "There's a lot more that needs to be explained."

Faul has been one taxpayer watching the expenses closely.

"(The administration & board is) saying it's bankrupt." Faul says, "but these four administrators and one teacher are going to take a trip and it's going to cost about $22,000."

No furloughs will happen at the end of this month but layoffs are expected at the end of the school year.

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