LPSS discusses budget; may have to cut jobs to fund facility updates

LAFAYETTE, La. (KLFY) – Lafayette parish voters rejected the school system’s half-cent sales tax last month.

The tax would have paid for school building upgrades.

The school board is now left to tackle its budget without the extra revenue.

Tonight, the board met for a special budget meeting.

Members said that they have to update facilities with money they already have, but to do that could mean possibly cutting jobs.

“To say I know what we have to do it’s still a hard pill to swallow, “District 4 school board member, Tehmi Chassion said.

The school board has some tough cuts to make, and they’re looking at their options for the next school year’s budget.

LPSS Superintendent Dr. Donald Aguillard said, “The question will be will the cuts necessary to free up that money be something that the board is willing to do.”

The administration presented the school board with two different budget options Tuesday night.

Instead of making cuts right away, the school board asked the administration to start over with a lower budget number.

“It’s easy for some of us to say we’ll just increase the student-teacher ratio, and therefore we can have more students and fewer teachers and decrease salaries but it’s tempting but it’s not my favorite way of doing it,” School Board District 2 Member Tommy Angelle said.

Since voters rejected the half-cent sales tax, the board does not have that revenue to pay for facility updates.

Updates like replacing temporary classrooms with permanent buildings, but to pay for some of the updates, the board will have to trim around 2 million dollars.

“90 percent of our budget is all salaries and benefits so when you’re trimming the budget you’re basically trimming personnel and actual jobs, folks that depend on those checks day in and day out,” Chaisson said.

Some of the updates have been thirty years in the making and some board members say now is the time to act.

“There are some serious issues where kids are still walking in the rain and we can’t have that,” Chaisson said.

“We always planned to have some improvements. We do what we can with the funds that we have,” Angelle added.

For now, it’s back to the drawing board for the administration, as they devise a new budget to present to the school board.

The next special budget meeting is this Thursday.

As of now, the school board is scheduled to approve and adopt a budget June 14.

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