Possible budget cuts, academy changes highlight busy LPSB week

Photo Credit: The Daily Advertiser

It’s a busy week for the Lafayette Parish School Board, with four meetings over the next three days. Here is a look at what’s ahead.

All meetings are at the central office, 113 Chaplin Drive.

4 p.m. Tuesday, Board Insurance Committee

The committee will get an update on the district’s group health plan and hear ideas on managing future claims costs.  The presentation is for information only. No votes are scheduled to take place.

5:30 p.m. Tuesday, Joint Meeting of the Facilities and Finance Committees

First, the committees will receive a full update on Schools of Choice enrollment, waiting lists and future projections.

District data shows 1,935 of 2,354 Schools of Choice slots are filled for next year, with 1,457 students on waiting lists.

Some academies have lengthy waiting lists – for example, there are 321 students on the waiting list for the L. Leo Judice Elementary environmental sciences academy, 550 waiting for a spot at J. Wallace James Elementary’s arts and technology academy and 107 on the list for middle school spots at David Thibodaux STEM Magnet Academy.

However, other academies are not filled to capacity, according to the data.

For example, 32 of 150 slots for freshmen, sophomores and juniors are filled at Comeaux High’s academy of applied and visual arts. Only 63 of 110 slots are filled at Acadiana High’s business academy, and 18 of 100 slots at Northside High’s legal academy.

Also at this meeting, board members will discuss options for reducing the student population at Lafayette High.

The ideas include moving Lafayette High’s health careers and/or performing arts academy to Comeaux High; offer gifted services at other sites in addition to Lafayette High; redrawing Lafayette High attendance zones or converting it into a magnet school.

Board members are not scheduled to take any votes at this meeting.

5:30 p.m. Wednesday, Regular board meeting

The board will decide here whether to make three elementary schools – Broadmoor, Katharine Drexel and Woodvale – have kindergarten through fifth grades, beginning in 2017-18.

That would mean Edgar Martin, Broussard Middle and L.J. Alleman Middle would no longer have fifth grades. This change also would result in fourth grade gifted students at Woodvale remaining at that school for fifth grade.

Also at this meeting, there will be a vote on whether to remove the gifted enrichment pull-out program from Paul Breaux Middle.

This wouldn’t affect Paul Breaux’s gifted academic program, but rather a one-day-a-week program for students from other schools. The students in the enrichment pull-out program would go to Edgar Martin Middle or Youngsville Middle.

5 p.m. Thursday, Budget Workshop

Budget season officially gets under way as the board starts tackling a deficit that could go as high as $13 million.

According to board documents, some suggestions from the district to close the gap include cutting dozens of positions, including slots for assistant principals, teachers, counselors, central office personnel, custodians, school security officers and para-educators.

The exact number of cuts, and to which jobs, will be decided in the coming weeks.

Schools are sometimes allotted a certain number of “appeals” slots, which means they could be able to add back some positions at a later date.

Budget workshops are scheduled to take place throughout May.

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