Budget cuts will hurt adult ed programs

Board member says governor making districts look like villains

Because of budget cuts made by Gov. Bobby Jindal, the state has cut funding to many St. Charles Parish Schools programs.

Funding for the LA 4 Early Childhood, Career and Technical Dual Enrollment, Adult Education, Non-Public Transportation and National Board Certified Teachers programs were all part of the mid-year cuts that take effect immediately.

“The governor made mid-year cuts so the Department of Education’s budget was cut by $17 million,” said Jim Melohn, the school system’s chief financial and administrative officer.

While the funding cuts to the early childhood, non-public transportation and national board certification programs were in the thousands, they were not significant when compared to the reductions to the other programs.

The largest reduction was for adult education, which was reduced by more than $127,000 out of the original budget of $192,572. This leaves the program with only about $65,000 of funding – less than half of what was originally allocated for it.

“We are concerned that this may be a first step in eliminating adult education provided through local districts,” said Rachel Allemand, assistant superintendent of curriculum, instruction and assessment. “Adult education is important because it provides adults a “second” chance to earn a high school diploma. It is also important that we offer adult education classes in local communities as many of these students do not have transportation to get to programs miles away.”

While the dual enrollment program took less of a monetary cut, it was far more vital.

The state cut all $24,750 of funding for the dual enrollment program, leaving none of the original funding.

“Dual enrollment allows students to begin to earn college credit before graduating from high schools,” Allemand said. “Students are more likely to continue their post secondary education if they are dually enrolled while in high school.”

The parish school board intends to take up the slack this spring in order to keep the program going, but the future is unknown.

“We have the funds to weather the storm this year,” Melohn said. “We feel like we have the funds through other sources to get through this year.”

Now, the school system has to sit back and wait while funding for dual-enrollment education is turned over to someone new.

“Right now, the funds are appropriated from the legislation to the Department of Education, and the DOE is the one who monitors it,” Melohn said. “Next year, that’s being turned over to the technical colleges. It will be up to them to determine how to allocate funds. There is really very little we can do.”

Melohn said that the school board must wait to see if funding will be provided to the parish next year for dual enrollment.

“Administrators and the board are currently studying the state cuts to determine how each might be handled through the end of the school year and in future years,” Allemand said.

School Board member John Smith was upset that the governor cut so much from the Department of Education’s budget.

“He’s making us, at the district level, look like the villains,” Smith said during the meeting. “We are going to have to say that we’re going to have to make some cuts in some very, very critical areas. It will not be our doing – it will be the state’s doing.”

 

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