Update: Committee votes to approve sale of land to save teacher jobs

By By Lance Traweek / American Press

The Calcasieu Parish School Board’s

budget committee voted 9-5 Thursday to approve the sale of property the

board owns in

Mossville for $9.5 million. The sale, when finalized, would

satisfy the $10 million in proposed budget cuts and prevent the

elimination of 158 teacher positions.

The one-time money will be “kicking the can down the road,” but it will balance the budget for the next fiscal year, said

Karl Bruchhaus, chief financial officer. Bruchhaus said the system will be back in the same predicament next fiscal year.

“This just buys time,” he said.

The system had a projected $13 million deficit for 2013-2014 before the land sale and before the committee adopted a revised

revenue figure of $3.1 million.

The land will go to auction Tuesday and will be sold at a minimum of $9.5 million. Bruchhaus said Sasol has showed a “strong”

desire to purchase the property. The sale has to be approved by the full board at its next meeting, June 4.

Committee members voting for the land

sale were Joe Andrepont, Annette Ballard, Dale Bernard, Mack Dellafosse,

Clara Duhon,

Chad Guidry, Fredman Hardy, Bill Jongbloed and Jim Schooler.

Members against were Billy Breaux, James Karr, Randall Burleigh,

Bryan LaRocque and R.L. Webb. Roman Thompson was absent for the

vote.

“This would allow staff to look at other options,” Andrepont said. “Granted, this is a one-time fee, but it allows us time.”

Burleigh said one-time money would not ease the recurring problem of a deficit.

“That’s what got this state in the position it’s in right now,” he said. “Next year we won’t have that building to sell. We

can put it off for a year, but I don’t see things changing. It’s only going to get worse.”

The staff had recommended nearly $10 million in cuts. But the bulk of the savings would have come from a staffing formula

that cut 158 teacher posts — 119 through attrition — in the first year to save the system nearly $8.7 million.

Thirty-nine regular classroom teachers would have lost their jobs if the formula had been approved. The student-to-teacher

ratios per school would have been 20-to-1 for grades K-3 and 25-to-1 for grades 4-12.

The staff will make adjustments to the formula and make recommendations to the board in the fall.

In other business, the committee recommended the staff bring to the board potential scenarios for school closings.