Lafayette School Board Members Make Nearly $1 Million In Budget Cuts, More Discussion Coming
LAFAYETTE, La. (KPEL) -- School board members made a few changes to a still-to-be-finalized 2013-14 budget framework, cutting by nearly a million dollars the $4.1 million projected budget deficit.
In reality, the board voted to make $2.39 million in cuts, but much of that was negated after a vote to fund nearly $1.2 million in teacher raises, or step increases as they're commonly called, through general fund spending instead of through a 2002 sales tax fund.
The majority of the overall budget framework, made up of 12 individual budget funds, was considered at Tuesday night's special meeting, but key portions of it, most noticeably a discussion on the general fund, were put off until a June 3 meeting.
Among the items cut from the budget were:
- $450,000 for wireless computer upgrades that are needed for PARCC assessments that start next year. These upgrades are mandated as the state moves to the computer-based exam. Board members said they would fund that project next year as sales tax revenues were received.
- $352,000 for a new patented key system for all schools. Under the current system, keys can be easily duplicated at local locksmiths, but the proposed key system would have made that next to impossible, as all keys would have been created by the central office.
- $205,351 for renovations to a portable building at Northside High School that would have been used to house the school system's teen pregnancy program. This item was a point of contention for board member Tommy Angelle, who said the program amounted to the school system condoning the poor decision-making of young teenagers. Supt. Pat Cooper said it's not the board's place to judge teenage mothers, adding the program would prevent them from dropping out and having more babies, while also preparing their children for learning.
- $320,000 for playground equipment at the Truman Montessori school.
- $1.07 million of $1.9 million allocated to the W.D. Smith Career Center.
A discussion on general fund spending was postponed until Monday. Board member Rae Trahan could be overheard jokingly saying that discussion could be a "three day event." Board member Greg Awbrey also pushed for a discussion on the administrative plan at the next meeting.
Board members have whittled away at spending, reducing a budget deficit that initially started out at more than $12 million. Unfunded mandates and reduced funding from the state, fewer state and federal grants, and rising retirement costs have all been partly to blame for the deficit.