The Superintendent of Lafayette Parish Schools calculates 164 positions have been cut thus far; that includes teachers and Para-professional. After Tuesday, the cuts bring the total $23.5 million shortfall down to about $7 million.
“I think we should stick with positions, because we’re not sure what’s going to happen with our resignations and retirements,” says Superintendent Dr. Pat Cooper.
Dr. Cooper explains that what the board has presented are recommendations. He says by law the superintendent is to prepare the budget; and that’s protected by state law.
“We appreciate all the work the board is doing. They really worked hard. We don’t necessarily agree with everything. So, although it appears they cut $13 million last night; that’s just their recommendations to the superintendent and the staff.”
Dr. Cooper notes it’s his job to return another budget to the board. He says it may not include the cuts or have cuts in different places.
“I’m still thinking that we’re not going to cut in the classroom. Schools continue to need to have the right number of teachers and the right number of Para-professionals. Schools need to keep their Deans of Students,” adds Cooper.
The superintendent explains compromise is the key word. Teachers may have to do without some of their 2002 Sales Tax bonuses. Dr. Cooper says the money will have to come from somewhere, but he intends to keep the classroom intact.
“We had a board member who said we can’t balance the budget on the backs of our teachers. I think more importantly, we can’t balance the budget on the back of our children,” explains the superintendent.