Schools face relentless funding cuts

Lafayette school officials have asked area legislators to push for a funding increase for public education and for relief from some unfunded state mandates to help the district overcome a $12 million deficit in the next school year.

St. Mary Parish, like Lafayette, is suffering from budgetary concerns as a result of cutbacks in funding as well as unfunded mandates from the state.

“Like Lafayette, all school districts are struggling to adjust operating budgets in a climate of staggering reductions in funding. The historical annual 2.75 percent increase in Minimum Foundation Program funding has not occurred for four consecutive years,” Donald Aguillard, St. Mary Parish school system superintendent, said via email today.

“Additionally, the Teachers Retirement System of Louisiana employer rate for retirement has grown from 15.8 percent in 2007 to 27.2 percent in 2014. The increase in the TRSL rate moved retirement expenses from $7.1 million in 2007 to an anticipated $13.3 million for 2014,” he said.

Funding for special schools has also shifted from the governor’s budget to a local responsibility beginning in 2012-13.

“For example, St. Mary will be charged $1.58 million for the state share to the following special schools: two virtual schools, Glencoe Charter School, Louisiana School District for Visually Impaired, Special School District, Louisiana School for Math, Science and the Arts and the scholarship program (vouchers). St. Mary will also be charged $1.26 million for the local share of responsibility to similar special schools, scholarship program, juvenile justice, Connections, etc. Thus, our 2013-14 MFP allocation begins as $47.08 million and ends at $44.24 million after adjusting for special schools, programs and student enrollment changes,” Aguillard said.

Information from The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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