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Sunday, July 21, 2019

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Layoffs possible in Lafourche Parish schools

Layoffs possible in Lafourche Parish schools

The Lafourche Parish School Board is set to consider a host of cuts to address the financial problems facing the school district.

Because of a decrease in sales and property taxes, the district must come up with $6 million in spending cuts before the next school year, Superintendent Jo Ann Matthews told the board’s Finance Committee last month.

The committee will consider Matthew’s options for layoffs and other cuts before taking its recommendations to the full School Board.

Matthews told the committee her recommendations were made to try to protect teachers and classrooms, and she was focused on addressing the current $6 million shortfall in hopes the economy could be better in the future.

“We are currently struggling for money, but I’m hoping the economy will come back and that our community at that time will support us,” Matthews told the committee at its Jan. 31 meeting. “So we need to count to six and hold on and protect our classrooms and our folks and support our students.”

She recommended the district not fill administrative and staff positions that have become vacant or are expected to become vacant with retirements, a move that could save the district over $500,000, she said.

By stopping staff performance pay for the 2017-18 and 2018-19 school years, the district could save $585,600. And it can save another $1.5 million if it uses fewer buses for student transportation.

Matthews submitted numerous potential cuts, which she ranked.

Among the positions Matthews recommended to be cut are two speech therapist assistants, a music therapist, an audiologist, an adapted physical education teacher and the special education director. Combined, those cuts would save the district $375,000.

Should the Finance Committee be against any of Matthews’ primary recommendations, she also provided alternatives, which include teacher layoffs. Matthews’ second-choice cuts were: one middle school choir teacher, one school psychologist, six high school teachers, seven middle school librarians, three high school librarians, three high school counselors and one program through the Career Magnet Center.

Among her third-choice cuts were 10 agriscience employees, seven instructors through Junior ROTC and all middle school athletics, including dance and cheer teams.

The Finance Committee will meet at 6:30 p.m. Feb. 21 at the board office, 805 E. 7th St., Thibodaux.

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