Public school funding at a shortfall

Public school superintendents and school board members are up in arms over a standstill budget appropriation approved by their

state governing board.

State lawmakers are now considering

the outlay in the Minimum Foundation Program, which provides state

funding to public school

systems. They have only the power to approve it or reject it,

sending it back to the state Board of Elementary and Secondary

Education for modifications.

What has upset the public school

administrators is the MFP lacks its traditional 2.75 percent annual

increase. That amounts

to about $70 million for the 2014-2015 school year. They say that

without the additional money, school systems will have to

shoulder increased costs due to inflation and the alarming rise in

retirement costs.

St. Bernard Parish School Superintendent Doris Voitier said state spending per students remains at 2008-2009 levels while

retirement costs have climbed dramatically during the same period.

Central School System

Superintendent Michael Faulk said school systems will have to shell out

more than $100 million in additional

costs in the next school year.

State Superintendent of Education

John White said the appropriation tracks the recommendations of a task

force that recently

studied public education. He said it includes $15 million in

additional funding for training and help for students with disabilities

and $40 million to cover increased enrollment.

He noted that state lawmakers added $69 million to last year’s public school funding.

Whether state lawmakers are able to provide the same sort of rescue this year is questionable. Though members of the Jindal

administration have waived off criticism of the governor’s budget plan, some state lawmakers say that it may be as much as

$80 million short of being balanced.

Such shortfalls put state legislators in a bind, and add to the degree of difficulty those voices that are crying out for

more money. The pie is remaining the same while the demands on it are getting greater.