School district approves $127 million budget
The overall budget is anticipated to be $127 million for the year, which includes a projection of $3 million less in sales tax than last year.
Jim Melohn, chief financial and administrative officer for St. Charles Parish Public Schools, said the conservative estimate was due to the state decreasing Minimum Foundation Program(MFP) funding for the school system.
"Ultimately it will mean an $8 million a year reduction in state funding from our funding for the FY07 (2007) year," Melohn said.
Superintendent Dr. Rodney Lafon said despite St. Charles having one of the highest expenditures per pupil, more MFP funding would be a definite help to the school system.
"The problem is for the last three or four years they are supposed to give us growth money as part of the MFB and they haven’t and that’s just not fair," Lafon said. "Now they are going to take dollars out of your budget and give it to somebody else for a child to go wherever when they haven’t given you the growth money they were supposed to give you for the last four years. It seems like the state is not leading forward in the way it was supposed to fund public education and I just think that’s not right."
Lafon said the MFP was initially supposed to provide more funds every year.
"It was supposed to be two and a half percent growth every year. It’s not there. That’s basically what they’ve done all over the years. It is the law and they just said they can’t afford it," Lafon said.
Lafon was also critical of the effect the Louisiana Scholarship Program will have on the system’s budget.
"Can we afford to give away dollars for the scholarships? Local dollars? Seems to me somebody’s got mixed priorities and it’s not me," Lafon said.
Melohn said a highlight of the budget was the awarding of a Striving Readers grant.
"That will bring $1.75 million additional dollars this year and approximately $6 million dollars over the life of the grant," Melohn said. "It will impact four schools and the Head Start program directly and all schools indirectly."
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