Spending bill would limit state funding to schools
A spending plan for public schools is advancing through the Louisiana legislature that would keep state funding per student for public schools at the same amount for the third year in a row. The almost $3.4 billion plan, called the Minimum Foundation Program, would not provide the 2.75 percent increase that schools used to get annually to cover rising health and retirement costs.
The program provides funding to school districts based on the number and type of students and if the plan passes, funding will stay at $3,885 per student for the coming year.
Jim Melohn, chief financial and administrative officer for St. Charles public schools, said that a plan that does not provide growth will impact the entire state.
“With increases in retirement and health costs, our district and Louisiana will be impacted with the lack of growth in the formula,” Melohn said.
But because of the fund balance, St. Charles schools and employees should not see a difference in existing programs - at least for the coming fiscal year.
“St. Charles Parish is fortunate that the School Board has put the system in a position that we can continue existing programs without having to make any staffing reductions,” Melohn said. “Health insurance for active and retired employees will not be affected for fiscal year 2012 unless there is a significant increase for the May 2012 renewal, but that would not be due to the lack of growth in this formula.”
Melohn said that the plan will also not affect the amount of funds and resources that are used for students in St. Charles.
“I just don’t think we're in a critical situation like other districts may be,” said Rochelle Cancienne-Touchard, public information director for the district. “It's because of the board's wisdom in regards to our fund balance that we're able to maintain what we're doing whereas other districts are having to make some cuts.”
If the plan passes through the legislature, the formula would increase by about $67 million, but only to account for a higher number of students enrolled in public schools and technical changes, not because of increased per-student funding.
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