A back and forth debate at Thursday’s Lafayette Parish School board meeting. The LPSB narrowed a $23.5 million budget shortfall down to about $7 million.
The board once again turned down a prepared budget by the superintendent on Thursday. LPSS Superintendent Dr. Pat Cooper says the prepared budget would have reinstated lower teacher-pupil ratios and added back-in at least 104 positions.
“Our teachers remain over-worked. Our children suffer, and the public has no reason to support public education. The budget I presented today will prevent the demise of our system and allow us to weather this temporary financial storm,” stated Dr. Cooper. The board also voted against using $7.3 million of rainy day funds to fill what’s left of the budget gap.
The Director of the Cajundome, Greg Davis was at the budget meeting. Davis spoke about what he called the school district’s revenue problem. “If we adopt this budget, it will give us more time as a board and a system and a community to try to find something more permanent. Whether that’s more tax increases to give you the money that you need.”
In the LPSS Assistant Superintendent’s cost center, about $15,000 was cut from the Academic Olympics Program.
The board was told the money paid for end of year testing medals. Funds to continue the Acadiana Arts Council and Museum of Natural Arts Programs, those dollars were saved.
Lafayette Attorney Marcus Allen: “The reality is the kids are what we are here for.”
LPSS Board Member Dr. Tehmi Chassion noted a willingness to use fund dollars; but no vote was taken on it. Dr. Chassion said the school district will start the school year with a $6 million deficit; and it will grow from there.
“Let’s say we cut our expenditures from let’s say hypothetically $23.5 million to zero. We will still be facing a $20 million deficit for next year,” says Chassion.