Calcasieu school officials plan to eliminate 158 teacher positions to alleviate deficit

By By Lance Traweek / American Press

Officials with the Calcasieu Parish school system have a plan to eliminate 158 teacher positions to alleviate the $13 million

deficit for the 2013-2014 fiscal year.

Karl Bruchhaus, chief financial officer, will make the staff’s recommendations at the budget committee meeting at 4:45 p.m.

today at 3310 Broad St.

The staff is recommending nearly $10 million in cuts. But the bulk of the savings would come from a staffing formula that

would cut 158 teacher posts in the first year and save the system nearly $8.7 million. Most of those positions — about 100

— are retirement positions that wouldn’t be refilled.

“The School Board’s financial situation is very difficult,” Bruchhaus said Wednesday. “Whenever you’re affecting people’s

jobs and their lives and their children — this is something we all take very seriously. Our goal is to continue to provide

the best possible education we can. But we have to do it within the revenues available.”

The formula includes regular classroom teachers. The student-to-teacher ratios per school include a 20-to-1 ratio for grades

K-3 and a 25-to-1 ratio for grades 4-12.

The district’s expenditures are nearly 84 percent salary and benefits. Bruchhaus said the staffing formula is a long-term

solution that will create stability within the budget.

“It’s impossible to do large reductions to a school system budget without looking at salary and benefits,” Bruchhaus said.

“We’re trying to solidify our budget for years into the future.”

Each year the principal will know how many teachers he or she is getting based on the staffing formula.

“It creates a constant that is applied parishwide,” he said. “There will always be cases where we will vary from the formula,

but we want to create a situation where we can identify those variances.”

The formula would not be implemented fully the first year. If it were, 359 positions would be eliminated, but the staff is

only making the 158-position proposal because “that’s what it takes to balance the budget for next year,” Bruchhaus said.

“We need something that makes us financially solid going into the future,” he said.

Other expenditures the staff wants to

cut include not refilling an administrative position, $115,970; property

and casualty

insurance savings, $425,000; eliminating 32 paraprofessional

positions, $660,960; and not allowing non-athletic trips that

would cause split routes, $50,000. However, the staff added a

public information officer position, $53,000, into the budget.

Another recommendation is that the board adopt a revised revenue figure that adds $1.8 million in sales tax revenue and $1.3

million in state money — totaling nearly $3.1 million.

The decision to implement the staff proposal will be up to the board. Bruchhaus expects “great debate” over the proposal.

The school system’s deficit mainly stems from a reduction of $3.6 million in state funding, an increase of $2.9 million in

retirement costs, an increase of $1.5 million in health insurance, and $2.2 million in local funding transfers to charter

schools.