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Wednesday, October 17, 2018



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Debate scheduled on budget cuts, reducing School Board size

Debate scheduled on budget cuts, reducing School Board size


 


The Lafourche School Board is scheduled Wednesday to discuss $6 million in proposed budget cuts and reducing the number of its members.

Superintendent Jo Ann Matthews presented potential cuts last week to the board’s Finance Committee, saying they are necessary after a decline in sales and property tax revenue. Her proposals include leaving vacant administrative positions open, eliminating employee performance bonuses and using fewer buses.

The board is scheduled to discuss, but not vote on, the cuts during Wednesday’s public meeting. It’s scheduled for 7 p.m. at the board office, 805 E. 7th St., Thibodaux.

The agenda says the board will decide “whether to declare a reduction in force and authorize the superintendent and the Finance Committee to determine cost-saving measures to reduce expenditures to address the current budget deficit to present to the full board.”

Also Wednesday, the board is scheduled to consider a step toward reducing its size from 15 members to nine. The board will consider a resolution asking local lawmakers to introduce such a measure during the state legislative session that begins March 12.

The board has debated reducing its membership for years, and the majority has voted against it several times. State laws govern how and when school boards can take such an action, and the board’s attorney has suggested that legislative approval is required.

Proponents have said a 15-member board is unwieldy and excessive and that reducing to nine would save taxpayers about $58,000 a year in salaries. Opponents say the savings would have little impact on the budget and contend the action would diminish members’ ability to serve their constituents.

Some members have cited failure to reduce the board’s size as one reason voters defeated a proposed one-cent sales tax increase in May for school workers’ salaries and other expenses.

Others said an oil bust that has persisted more than three years, costing thousands of local jobs, was more influential in discouraging voters from approving the tax.

 

-- Staff Writer Holly Duchmann can be reached at 857-2205 or holly.duchmann@houmatoday.com. Follow her on Twitter @holly_evamarie.