St. Landry

Mar 27, 2012 11:05 PM by Shawn Kline

School district digs for ways to avoid layoffs

In St. Landry Parish, it's official: the state will not take over the school district after approving the board's plan to reduce a $4-million deficit but almost half that deficit could be reduced by the state.
Layoffs are on the way. Notices could be sent out as early as next month. Teachers in St. Landry Parish Schools have expected that, but there's more:

Insurance premiums are going up and programs cut. We're talking major cuts, expected to save the school board millions of dollars but it doesn't include an important source of funding.

"These moneys were dedicated to St. Landry Parish for the good of the children of St. Landry Parish," Board member Anthony Standberry said.

He's talking about Racino funds.
Standberry says $1.8-million taxed from Evangeline Downs Casino is earmarked for St. Landry Parish Schools, or is it?

"The current budget proposes to take money away from the school system which is rightfully theirs," State Treasurer John Kennedy said.

Treasurer Kennedy reviewed the school board's plan to climb out of the red; he says there's a need to cut back as stated in the plan but a big portion of district's $4-million deficit can be filled with these Racino funds.
There's still another hurdle, though: Governor Jindal has a plan to use the money for medicaid instead.

"Because the state is having fiscal problems, for them to come in and take the school system's money, it doesn't seem fair to me," Kennedy said.

Standberry hopes the legislature in Baton Rouge allows the board to use that funding. It would cut the school's deficit nearly in half and that may mean less cuts for teachers.

"It definitely could mean less layoffs," Standberry said. "We could use that money to fill some of the holes in our budget."

The funds are currently on-hold pending legislation. House Bill 168, sponsored by Opelousas' Rep. Ledricka Thierry would allow 50-percent of the state taxes collected from Evangeline Downs Racetrack and Casino's slot machine proceeds to the St. Landry Parish School System.

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