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Facing deficit, Calcasieu School Board begins preliminary discussions to merge schools

Last Modified: Friday, October 25, 2013 2:06 PM

By Lance Traweek / American Press

With a projected deficit of $13.5 million for the 2014-2015 school year, the Calcasieu Parish School Board budget committee on Tuesday began preliminary discussions to balance the budget by consolidating schools.

No action was taken on the issue, and committee members did not specify any schools. “We’re not at that point yet,” Karl Bruchhaus, school system chief financial officer, said after the meeting.

The preliminary budget outlook was presented about five months ahead of schedule in preparation for the deficit. The School Board recently balanced its 2013-2014 budget by selling its Mossville property.

“We’re making an effort to start this process early, so there are no surprises as next year approaches,” Bruchhaus said.

He said that if staff were to recommend closing specific schools, it would have to do with the surrounding schools and whether they would be able to take the students in effectively.

“How it all fits together will be like a puzzle,” he said.

Bruchhaus said staff will analyze where population has dropped over the years and where people are no longer living in the zone or leaving the zone.

“You have a population shift, which creates smaller classes and end up costing more,” he said. “That’s why in some schools we’ll see that the total cost per pupil is higher when the school is smaller because class size breaks are not as efficient financially.”

Bruchhaus mainly attributed the future deficit to an increase in retirement costs and benefits. “We have to carve out in our budget for those things that we can’t control,” he said.

Staff will make recommendations to the board in the coming months.

In other business, the committee made changes to substitute teacher pay. If a teacher is certified or degreed and works 10 consecutive days in the same position, on the 11th day the teacher will go to full pay — $214 for certified teachers and $150 for degreed.

The change is that the school system will go back to that first day and pay them the higher rate from the first day.

“We’re rewarding (substitutes) for being in that position for more than 10 consecutive days,” Bruchhaus said. “We’re trying to get (substitutes) to take those long-term jobs, so that there is not a void in the classroom with the regular teacher being out.”

The issue will go before the full board at its regular meeting Tuesday, Nov. 12.

Posted By: Sylvia On: 10/23/2013


Savoy was so proud of getting rid of the waiting list for Pre-k, all for free, and now there's a deficit. So the solution is combining schools and increasing class size. Really? This makes no sense from a teaching standpoint.

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