OPELOUSAS — The St. Landry Parish School Board adopted a financial operating plan Thursday that Superintendent Michael Nassif said will save the district $2.1 million by slashing programs for the fiscal year that began July 1.
Despite the elimination of some programs that include adult education, merit attendance pay for teachers and a general fund budget subsidy for the school lunch program, Nassif said there are currently no plans to eliminate employee positions.
Layoffs will occur only if the district is unable to afford the costs of about $3.2 million for increased employee retirements and paying plaintiffs’ attorney fees in connection with a 47-year-old desegregation federal lawsuit settled in March, according to the proposal.
The plan also implements a new employee hiring freeze unless a determination of need is recommended by Nassif or personnel director Matthew Scruggins.A proposed budget approved at the meeting indicates the district expects to start the fiscal year with a $1.2 million general fund deficit.
The program cuts are part of an overall financial exigency plan that Nassif says is necessary so the district can handle possible financial problems that occur during the school calendar year which starts in August.
Nassif said St. Landry and other public school systems are having to absorb more costs because of a reduction in state revenue assistance.
As part of his financial plan, Nassif said $750,000 can be saved by having the district’s salary and benefit fund pay a monthly $42.88 per-employee cost for health-care insurance.
The elimination of the adult education program will save $350,000, while stopping the merit attendance incentives will result in a reduction of $35,000 annually, the plan says.
Nassif told the School Board the district’s adult education plan duplicates one offered at T.H. Harris Career and Technical School.
Also the plan says the district will save about $150,000 in general fund contributions for lunch and $100,000 for reducing the number of career and technical teachers at the St. Landry Alternative Training School.
Nassif said Evangeline Downs racino funds will be used to pay $743,750 in annual costs for high school career and technical teachers that were previously paid with general fund revenues.
The district also has no plans to hire substitutes for nonteaching personnel except bus drivers, Nassif said.
The board also approved by a 7-4 vote a new plan for selecting Executive Committee members.
Some members complained earlier this year that there are no black members on the committee even though there are six black members on the 13-member board.
The new policy allows for a two-year rotation of Executive Committee members. The former policy allowed representation on the committee only by seniority.