House of Representatives members work during legislative action in the House Chamber at the State Capitol, Thursday, May 17, 2018.


Basic state aid for public schools will be frozen for the 10th time in 11 years under legislation that won final approval Thursday in the Louisiana Legislature.

The measure, Senate Concurrent Resolution 48, won House approval 90-0, the final step in the process.

Despite pleas for an increase before the session, the proposal breezed through the House and Senate without controversy.

Education groups who want to boost funding beyond the approved $3.7 billion for the 2018-19 school year raised little protest amid state budget problems, and a $648 million shortfall.

The only increase is to handle the costs of additional students, meaning the spending per student remains unchanged.

The money helps pay for teacher salaries, school supplies and textbooks for about 700,000 public school students.

It also helps finance teacher retirement obligations and health care costs, which is why education leaders say another freeze amounts to a loss with ever rising retirement and health care expenses.

However, state aid for public schools has avoided any outright reductions, unlike higher education, health care and other key state services.

The money is funneled through a spending mechanism called the Minimum Foundation Program.

State aid used to be routinely increased by 2.75 percent per year, and sometimes more, for inflation and other costs.

But state budget problems for the past decade ended that practice, and any future increases depend on that state finding new revenue.

The Louisiana Association of School Superintendents, Louisiana School Boards Association, Louisiana Association of Principals and Louisiana Association of Public Charter Schools earlier this year urged Louisiana's top school board to ask the Legislature for a $40 million increase, about 1.3 percent.

Backers said flat teacher salaries, and the fact pay has slipped below the regional average, offered solid reasons for a boost.

However, BESE voted in March to ask the Legislature for a standstill budget after Gov. John Bel Edwards took the same stance.

Follow Will Sentell on Twitter, @WillSentell.