LAFAYETTE — The Lafayette Parish School Board is meeting in special session on Monday to consider whether to lay off some school system staff or to instead add between $5.3 million and $6.3 million to its budget to save jobs that were not included in the spending plan it adopted in September.
Interim Superintendent Burnell LeJeune and Chief Financial Officer Billy Guidry will present three different budget revisions to the board at the meeting.
The $6.3 million proposal restores all of the positions cut by the board, including 13.5 assistant principals, 32.5 teacher slots, four dean of students positions and 41 para-educators who work as in-school suspension facilitators.
The $5.3 million proposed revision restores the 41 in-school suspension facilitators, 2.5 assistant principal jobs and 18.5 teacher slots but cuts the four dean of students positions.
A nearly $4 million proposed revision covers expenses for the positions that were not included in the 2014-15 adopted budget from July through December.
The board also will vote on whether to implement its reduction in force policy. Approval requires a two-thirds vote of the board, meaning six board members would have to agree.
LeJeune said Friday the impact of layoffs won’t be known until the board makes a decision on the budget revisions. If the board implements its RIF policy, he said, administrative staff would review vacant positions and see if the impacted employees would qualify for any of them. A list of impacted positions would then be presented to the board at its Dec. 17 meeting.
Layoffs, if approved, would take effect at the end of the work day on Jan. 6, according to a time line of the proposed reduction in force posted with the meeting agenda.
Neither plan restores all of the positions cut by the board. Restoration of positions varies in each plan. However, all the versions recommend eliminating one counselor position; two special education teacher assistant jobs and 2.5 teachers from N.P. Moss Preparatory Academy, the district’s alternative school for students who need intensive behavioral and academic support.
The school system’s staff identified $7.3 million to cover the costs of either proposed budget revision.
It consists of $4 million in contingency funds available in capital projects; $2.5 million in capital projects that could be eliminated and $836,680 in excess sales taxes collected between July and Oct. 31.
This year’s budget process was complicated from the start as former superintendent Pat Cooper and the board failed to reach a compromise on budget plans, resulting in more than 20 meetings.
The majority of planning sessions involved the board culling through the general fund to identify potential cuts and making them without input from central office staff.
When the board adopted the budget on Sept. 15, Cooper refused to implement it. He said he was concerned about the negative impact the cuts would bring to the school system and claimed the board didn’t follow state laws in preparing and adopting the budget.
The recent proposed budget revisions are less than what LeJeune pitched at a board budget workshop on Nov. 19.
During that workshop, LeJeune and Guidry outlined the need for an additional $8.5 million for proposed budget revisions.
The board already used about $7.1 million from its reserves to help balance the budget it adopted in September, and during the Nov. 19 workshop some board members questioned the need to dig deeper into its reserves.
During the budget workshop, some board members criticized the school district’s administration for making staffing decisions outside of the board’s adopted 2014-15 budget.
Guidry explained at the time that the district was still operating with last year’s budget as it moved into the school year and followed that spending plan, which included the positions. The district also had a boost in enrollment that impacted staffing levels, he said then.
Follow Marsha Sills on Twitter, @Marsha_Sills.