LAFAYETTE — The Lafayette Parish School Board is set to take action Wednesday on tax proposals to fund $561 million in school facility improvements and possibly create a preschool-for-all program.
The board will vote on whether to seek voter approval on two tax propositions and the board will vote on the school system’s $395 million budget at a special board meeting at 4:30 p.m. Wednesday.
A 4 p.m. public hearing on the budget precedes the meeting. The public can review the document at the central office, 113 Chaplin Drive.
The board will decide whether to ask voters to support its master plan for facilities with a $561 million bond proposal. At least 23 mills would need to be levied in the first year to begin paying down the debt. The board will also consider a 2-mill property tax earmarked for maintenance.
Another proposition calls for a 12-mill property tax that could generate a maximum of $19.55 million annually to offer universal Pre-K4 classes.
The board first considered the propositions at its June 15 meeting. At that time, the preschool proposition was for a 5.4-mill tax generating $8.1 million annually — the amount needed to create enough Pre-K4 classes to match kindergarten enrollment.
The increase to 12 mills is to help offset any potential loss of state funding for the preschool classes, said Lafayette Parish Schools finance director Matt Dugas.
Over the past five years, the district has lost more than $736,000 in LA4 and 8(g) state grant funding, officials have said.
“If the funding is not cut, we would not assess the full millage. It would allow us to go up to 12 mills,” Dugas said.
In the most recent school year, more than 800 4-year-olds were enrolled in Lafayette Parish preschool classes. That’s a little more than a third of its kindergarteners.
Priority is given to low-income students, with tuition-paying students making up about 8 percent of the program’s enrollment.
The board has been asked to consider either an Oct. 22 or Nov. 19 ballot. A spot on the Oct. 22 ballot requires a decision Wednesday in order to meet state election deadlines.