NEW IBERIA — The Iberia Parish School Board unanimously approved a resolution Wednesday asking the Legislature to resume paying bills that it had left for the board to pay.
The bills, also called unfunded mandates, are costs that the state imposes on local governments, which they are required to pay.
Superintendent Dale Henderson said he didn’t have an exact number on the cost to the school system, but it is in the millions of dollars.
The state has stopped paying stipends to teachers with national accreditations, stopped paying operation costs for private school buses and stopped paying for summer Louisiana Educational Assessment Program remediation courses and testing.
The largest cost to the school system is the teacher retirement fund, Henderson said. The cost to the school system rose 15.5 percent in 2010 and 23.7 percent 2011. The cost is expected to rise 24.7 percent next year.
Henderson said last year that the majority of the $3.7 million deficit reported in February was because of the retirement fund.
The resolution also states that imposing the mandates on the school boards violates the state constitution and state Act 749 of 2010 that prohibits the Legislature from imposing unfunded mandates on school systems. Additionally, it says the Legislature has not raised minimum foundation payments to the school boards in three years.
Henderson said he hopes all school systems across the state adopt the resolution and encourage the state begin paying the bills.
Also during the meeting, the board members voted 11-1 to name board member Elvin Pradia as its president. Pradia replaces board member Joel Dugas who held the position in 2011.
Raymond Lewis, Jesse McDonald, Kenric Fremin, Kathleen Rosamond, Dugas, Dan LeBlanc, Danny Segura, Pradia, Kenneth Lockett, Edwin Buford and Rachel Segura voted for Pradia. Clara Carrier voted against his being named to the post. Arthur Alexander was absent and Robbie LeBlanc refused to vote.
Robbie LeBlanc said his action would speak for itself, and he did not comment further. Carrier said she voted no for personal reasons and did not elaborate.
Also at the meeting, Lewis congratulated Dugas for being named parish government chief administrative officer.
Dugas thanked Lewis but said the appointment was not official until next week.