The Lafayette Charter Foundation board has approved a $10,000 contribution to help with the defense of a lawsuit that could strip funding from charter schools such as the two it oversees in Lafayette Parish.
A trial on claims made by the Louisiana Association of Educators and the Iberville Parish School Board that allege the way the state funds some charter schools is unconstitutional began Monday.
The lawsuits were filed separately and later consolidated. Both lawsuits claim the state unfairly has diverted state funding through the Minimum Foundation Program to Type 2 charter schools because law says the MFP funding must be allocated to a city or parish school system — which the lawsuit alleges the charter schools aren’t because they’re not governed by or a part of a city or parish school system. Type 2 charter schools are public schools that are overseen by nongovernmental school boards.
In its lawsuit, the Iberville Parish School Board singled out two specific schools that enrolled students from its parish — Iberville Charter Academy and Baton Rouge Charter Academy. Both schools are managed by Charter Schools USA, a company based in Florida. Charter Schools USA also manages the two schools overseen by the Lafayette Charter Foundation — Lafayette Renaissance Charter Academy and Acadiana Renaissance Charter Academy.
The Type 2 charter schools also are eligible to receive a share of local tax revenues — a matter that has led to some complexity for school districts, such as the Lafayette Parish School System because it collects taxes for dedicated expenses, such as teacher salaries. Last year, the Lafayette Parish School Board sought legislative relief from sharing dedicated taxes with the charter schools, though legislation stalled. A state-mandated study on the issue of sharing the dedicated tax revenues provided no concrete solutions, only a recommendation from Louisiana Department of Education staff that school boards could “achieve greater flexibility in their use of local revenues by approving or renewing local tax referenda having less restrictive language and fewer dedications for the use of funds.” During its meeting Wednesday, the Lafayette Parish School Board will consider another appeal for legislative intervention in the upcoming session that starts April 13.
Follow Marsha Sills on Twitter, @Marsha_Sills.