The clock is ticking for the Lafayette Parish School Board to finalize their budget plan for the next school year. And following their latest meeting, it seems they're close to that goal.
"We presented the board with a balanced budget last night and we're happy and pleased the way everyone's been working to come up with these cuts," said LPSS Superintendent Dr. Pat Cooper.
Cooper says in order to save $6 million, they are eliminating 83 positions. After carefully reviewing years of numbers, they discovered many schools are overstaffed. But by elimination, Cooper says those positions are actually vacant.
"We've had a lot of people who have retired or resigned. There are no teachers in those positions," said Cooper. "So, by attrition, we're going to be able to cover those 83 positions. We won't be firing anybody. We won't be laying off anybody."
But board member Mark Cockerham says without filling those 83 spots, it means fewer staff will be on campus. He says it's a drastic change and one he's not sure schools are ready to handle.
"It's just a bad time to look at lowering the teachers from schools," said Cockerham. "They've had a tough year already and they can't fathom having a smaller staff with the year they've had."
Cooper says this time around they will go by the board's proportion rules in order to avoid overstaffing. He explains the student teacher ratios.
"K through 3rd grade is 23 to one. 4th grade is 25 to one and 5th through 12th grade is 28 to one. So, what we're going to do is adhere to that," said Cooper.
Still a few weeks away from a decision, Cockerham says he's optimistic and even surprised how smooth the process has gone.
"This wasn't political," said Cockerham. "I didn't see politics come out in this process. This was the real deal."
The fiscal year ends on June 30th. However, the Board feels they may not have the budget finalized until sometime in July.
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