Apr 7, 2011 7:18 PM by Carolyn Cerda
The St. Martin Parish School Board is avoiding a financial crisis by making cuts to their staff. It's a move that is actually getting praise from teachers.
"We were pleased with the results," said Latonia Cretian, a teacher at Teche Elementary and president of the St. Martin Federation of Teachers. "They heard our concerns and in the end they made the choice that would be best for the students they serve in St. Martin Parish.
Initially on the chopping block were teacher's jobs and salaries. But, instead the school board decided to make cuts elsewhere. The decision was made to eliminate 20 positions: 16 teachers, 2 French immersion teachers, and 2 office staff. Those positions would be vacant through attrition and retirement, meaning no one would be fired.
"I am very satisfied that no one will be losing a job," said school board member Floyd Knott. "No one will be receiving a salary cut, and that's great."
The elimination of those positions will save the school board nearly $1 Million. The board also made other cuts that don't effect staff members, including tapping into their rainy day account. They're taking 45% out of that reserve, or about $900,000. Another way the board will offset it's deficit is by charging more for school lunch. Knott says the price will double, going from about 75cents to $1.50.
The news is good for this year's budget, but school board members are now looking at next year. Knott says the deficit could be greater.
"I cautioned the board members last night," said Knott. "Next year, I think it's going to be just bad next year. But, this time we have a whole year to think about it, and I'm predicting we won't cut salaries next year."
Cretian said, "Even if there's a potential for us to be in the same position next year, at least we have a year to prepare and brace ourselves."