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Sunday, September 16, 2018



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School board cuts $6 million from budget

School board cuts $6 million from budget



The Lafourche Parish School Board voted 13-1 Wednesday night to cut $6 million from the district’s budget for next year.

The cuts include bus driver and vacant positions but not teachers.

Raymond Toups was the only board member to vote against the cut. Brooke Huddleston was absent from the meeting.

Toups said he voted against the measure because he didn’t feel the board had looked deep enough into alternative options, such as reducing the size of the School Board.

“It’s my opinion that the board has not explored the opportunities of revenues in opposition to cuts, and specifically the board reduction in numbers could go a long way to restore the credibility of the board with the public,” Toups said after the meeting.

Toups also agreed with James Shorter, the district’s pupil appraisal manager, who addressed the board in opposition of cuts of district staff members who help children in the parish.

For a $375,000 in savings, two speech therapist assistants, a music therapist, an audiologist, an adapted physical education teacher and the special education director will be cut.

The cuts also leave multiple positions in the district’s staff and administration unfilled after being vacated for retirements and shrink the district’s school bus force by 20 percent. Twenty-eight of the 135 bus drivers will be laid off at the end of the school year, which saves the district $1.5 million.

Board member Ray Bernard requested at the meeting that displaced drivers be considered first if positions open up in the future.

The cuts were recommended by school Superintendent Jo Ann Matthews at January’s finance committee meeting. The committee accepted Matthews’ recommendation at last month’s meeting, with the exception of the reduction in pay for the 180-day contract employees.

Board member Marian Fertitta said the board had to make the cuts that would have the least effect on the students, starting with the bus drivers and making their way down.

“We’re just hoping that down the line maybe the taxes will improve,” Fertitta said.

The cuts come after the district experienced a drop in revenues from sales and property taxes.

Other action taken Wednesday night by the Lafourche Parish School Board include, (all votes were unanimous unless indicated otherwise):

ACTION: Approved revisions to policies on use of school facilities, student smoking and tobacco use, building and ground management, sale of buildings and land, employee tobacco use, sick leave and recruitment.

ACTION: Approved a change order for $11,067.08 for the repair and flushing of hot water hydronic lines at Larose-Cut Off Middle School.

ACTION: Approved a change order for $64,247.41 from B.E.T. Construction to add 40 additional parking spots for the new Chackbay Elementary School project.

ACTION: Accepted the superintendent’s proposed recommendation for budget cuts, with the exception of the reduction in days of 180-day contract employees. Raymond Toups dissented.

ACTION: Accepted changing the school boundaries for St. Charles Elementary, Thibodaux Elementary, W.S. Lafargue Elementary, South Thibodaux Elementary, Raceland Lower Elementary and Raceland Upper Elementary schools for the 2018-19 school year.

ACTION: Approved revisions to the policy on reduction of personnel.

ACTION: Accepted a low bid of $3.38 million for the turf field projects at Central Lafourche, South Lafourche and Thibodaux high schools.

ACTION: Accepted the credit change order for $3,200 and added 30 additional days to the contract for the South Lafourche High School sewer plant/lift station project.

ACTION: Adopted a resolution supporting the Louisiana State Association of School Personnel Administrators’ request to have the Legislature create a task force to address the shortage of certified teachers in Louisiana.

ACTION: Received a report on the Louisiana School Boards Association’s annual convention held Feb. 28 to March 2 in Baton Rouge.

 

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