The Lafayette Parish School Board gave the green light Monday for its $430 million budget to head to the public for review of the proposed 2015-16 spending plan.
The bulk of the board’s budget is its $267 million general fund, which includes its instructional expenses and employee salaries. The board pushed the general fund through to public review in a 6-2 vote, with board members Dawn Morris and Tehmi Chassion voting against.
Prior to the vote, Chassion told the board he’d like to propose additional cuts, though he didn’t make his recommendations during Monday’s meeting.
“I don’t think it’s truly finished. I will be speaking with all of you about possible cuts,” Chassion said.
The public has a chance to review a printed copy of the budget at the School Board office, 113 Chaplin Drive, from June 6 until June 17 when a public hearing is scheduled for 4 p.m. followed by a special meeting for final adoption at 4:30 p.m.
The board pushed through the general fund with $918,349 in recent expenses added during last week’s budget meeting. Those expenses include additional English as a Second Language teachers and the restoration of board member association dues. The board’s rainy day fund would cover the additional expenses, said Billy Guidry, chief financial officer.
Board members had previously removed the membership dues, which are estimated at $19,800, from the budget as a show of solidarity with employees affected by some of the budget cuts. As a way to fill a $16 million shortfall, class sizes at many schools were increased by one student and staff changes were made that will likely displace some employees, sending them to vacant positions at different campuses.
The budget process this year so far has stayed on track and without major debate among board members and staff — a change from last year when that board did not support then-Superintendent Pat Cooper’s numerous balanced budget proposals in a process that stretched into September — beyond the July 1 start of the new fiscal year. That budget process led to litigation filed by a local education advocate and Cooper himself. The lawsuits didn’t gain traction in court, though they boosted the board’s legal expenses. The board’s executive committee will consider recommendations on how to cut its legal expenses at a meeting planned later this month.
Follow Marsha Sills on Twitter, @Marsha_Sills.