St. Landry

Jan 12, 2012 11:39 PM by Shawn Kline

School board shies from major cuts

The St. Landry Parish School Board is projected to be about $4-million short on its budget.

Interim Superintendent Donnie Perron says layoffs will be necessary, but will the school board make those cuts?

"Why would we have thrown away $250-thousand on lawn care?" Ricky Julien asked. "This is information from your budget!"

It looked more like an "Occupy Wall Street" protest than a school board meeting on Thursday night and like most protests, the ones holding the signs have the most to lose.

"We don't want to compromise the student's education, their time in the classroom and we don't want to compromise teacher morale," Julien said.

Julien is a teacher at Sunset Middle and he believes the school board and the previous administration under former Superintendent Michael Nassif grossly mismanaged funds like the aforementioned "lawn-care expense."
Now, the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education is demanding cuts. The first thing on the chop-block? Salaries.

"As far as cuts are concerned, cuts are inevitable," Board member Anthony Standberry said. "There's a leak in the bucket, the board members didn't create the leak but it has to be fixed."

Standberry says the major cuts (like health care benefits and furloughs) still won't fill the void. Those cuts were proposed at Thursday's meeting and were expected to cut away less than $2-million of the estimated $4-million deficit.

That's why Standberry wants to get together with teachers and the administration to find other places to cut first.

"If they want to do a line-item study, then do a line-item study." Standberry says, "(When that happens) they can know the board members are doing the best thing humanly possible for them."

Board members need to present this plan to BESE: a review with teachers and administration on Tuesday and another meeting set for Wednesday, January 18.
At that meeting, the major cuts (those to health care benefits and salaries) will be put back on the table.

BESE will review that plan on Friday.

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