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School system may lose $5.9M

Publication: American Press;Date: Feb 28, 2012;Section: Front Page;Page: 1

School system may lose $5.9M BESE approves new per-student funding method
BY ASHLEY WITHERS AMERICAN PRESS

The Calcasieu Parish school system is expected to lose about $5.9 million in state funding as a result of the Minimum Foundation Program formula approved Monday by the state Board of Elementary and Secondary Education. But Superintendent Wayne Savoy said the cut is nothing to be worried about yet. “Those calculations are not based on actual numbers. They are based on unofficial estimates,” Savoy said. “I’m not alarmed yet because I know the numbers.” The formula, to be sent to the state Legislature in early March, is based on parish enrollment estimates. But Savoy said the actual funding will be based on February enrollment, which is now being verified. The Legislature will vote on the formula, but it’s unable to make adjustments to BESE’s proposal. The formula simulation funds the schooling of 679,000 students at a cost of $3.4 billion for the 2012-2013 school year. The per-student state funding will remain the same as in previous school years, but the money will not be limited to public schools. Private and charter schools that accept vouchers will receive additional funding for each student in the voucher program. “The concept is budgeting to follow the child,” said Holly Boffy, District 7’s BESE representative. But according to the state Department of Education, this type of formula will hurt Calcasieu Parish’s funding, especially with the addition of another charter school in the area. “Calcasieu is estimated to have a decrease in funding because they are losing students to charter schools,” said Beth Scioneaux, the department’s deputy superintendent of finance. “However, they do not have the cost of educating the students either. I think the community will embrace the idea that local students should benefit from local tax dollars.” Savoy disagrees. “They are estimating that all of the children going to the charter schools are from Calcasieu public schools, and that is not true,” he said. Before the formula was approved by BESE, the original proposal was amended to put a child’s eligibility for a scholarship or voucher in the hands of the Legislature. “Our state doesn’t have the capacity to fit every child from a ‘C,’ ‘D’ or ‘F’ school into a charter or private school,” Boffy said. “I’m hoping that by putting it in the hands of the Legislature, it will really be based on who has the greatest need.” Boffy proposed an amendment to the original formula that said all schools that will receive public funds as a result of the new funding plan will be subject to an ac countability system.

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3/5/12

School system may lose $5.9M

“I thought this would provide assurances down the road if we already have an accountability system in place,” Boffy said. “I don’t want public dollars going toward nonpublic schools if they are going to be lowerquality institutions.” Surrounding parishes are not expected to face cuts as substantial as Calcasieu Parish. Beauregard Parish stands to lose $600,000, and Jeff Davis Parish will lose just over $100,000. Allen Parish is expected to gain $5 million in state funding because of a recent influx of students.

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