Lafayette school board reduces budget deficit by less than $350,000, still faces $7M shortfall


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LAFAYETTE, Louisiana — The Lafayette Parish School Board reduced its budget deficit by less than $350,000, but with the start of school just four weeks away, it still faces a $7.38 million shortfall.

By the end of a four-hour meeting Thursday, The Advocate reports (http://bit.ly/1nkqY1N) the board approved $346,212 in cuts — $332,000 of that was a single cut to stipends for national board certifications, but it affects only those employees who received certifications after July 1, 2013.

Before the board ended its meeting, Assistant Superintendent Sandra Billeaudeau appealed to the board to move to the instructional staffing accounts as soon as possible.

"All of the principals who are sitting behind me are extremely concerned about not being able to fill their positions that they currently have open," Billeaudeau said.

After board member Tommy Angelle suggested the board pick up with those accounts at a meeting Tuesday, principals in the audience let out a collective "No!"

Angelle called for the meeting to adjourn — stopping any further decision-making related to the budget. The board next meets on Tuesday and will take up Billeaudeau's request to make decisions about staffing.

On Thursday, the board continued a line-by-line look at instructional services accounts but deferred decisions on several accounts either because supervisors were on vacation or because board members requested additional information.

By hour four, board President Hunter Beasley told the board it needed to pick up the pace because it had reviewed only a handful of accounts and had a growing list of accounts that it deferred.

Chief Financial Officer Billy Guidry said more than 60 accounts remained for them to review.

The board began its meeting Thursday with a shortfall of $7.7 million — a feat, considering it started the process in May with a $23.5 million funding gap. The board's review of its general fund has been a slow one, with prior meetings in the past few weeks lasting between five to 6½ hours. Final adoption of the budget likely won't occur until late August.

And next year the board faces another steep hole to fill, with a deficit projected at $20 million.

Jobs that remain in the budget this year may not receive the same saving grace next year, Beasley said.

School starts Aug. 12, and teachers report to work on Aug. 5.


Information from: The Advocate, http://theadvocate.com

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