May 4, 2012 10:45 PM by Shawn Kline
The St. Landry Parish School Board could be faced with a $4-million deficit after this school year if layoffs are not put in place. That is, if the state doesn't take over first.
State education officials say they asked the board to implement cost-saving measures and that didn't happen.
It's now up to the Legislative Auditor to decide whether the board can still salvage the school system's finances or if the DOE has to step in.
After reviewing the board's finances, the Legislative Auditor's Office determined layoffs were vital to break even but the layoffs haven't happened.
"It's quite obvious they were not clear on our policies," Board Member John Miller said. "I certainly did not want to harm any instructions at this time."
Miller says one reason the board denied the layoffs is an issue with its reduction in force policy, or "RIF." Although the board approved the policy last month, some board members took issue with the lack of what's called a "bump-down" option.
If, for example, a teacher with 13-years experience were to take a job as a secretary, a bump-down option would allow that secretary to go back to his or her job as a teacher because he or she has more years of experience.
The way the policy reads now, that's not an option and the secretary would be cut no matter what their qualifications are.
"The policy is always good but when you start to apply it, there's oh, I didn't know about this, I didn't know about that," Interim Superintendent Joseph Cassimere said.
Cassimere is filling-in as superintendent. He says the board would need to adjust its policies to get the first wave of layoffs underway but it may even be too late for that. The state could announce its intentions to take over the system as early as next week.
Cassimere tells KATC he's been in talks with state officials and expects more conversations on Monday.