Delayed opening of a new charter school could also delay a $3 million impact to the Lafayette Parish school system’s troubled budget _lowres

Advocate staff file photo by BRAD BOWIE -- An artist's rendering of the Ville de Côte Gelée development is construction site in Broussard in November. The development will be home to The Broussard Charter Academy, which was set to open in fall 2015, however, has been delayed because of a BESE policy postponing charter school openings if its sister schools have poor performance scores.

The delayed opening of a charter school that was set to begin classes in August staves off an estimated $3 million financial impact to the Lafayette Parish School System, chief financial officer Billy Guidry told the school board Wednesday.

Broussard Charter Academy won’t open as planned in August because of a Louisiana Board of Elementary and Secondary Education policy postponing charter school openings if their sister schools have poor performance scores.

The delay will help offset the Lafayette Parish School Board’s projected budget shortfall by about $3 million, meaning the starting line for upcoming budget talks will be a $15 million shortfall, Guidry said. That shortfall could grow to $19 million, though, if projected increases in sales and property tax revenues don’t materialize.

During Wednesday’s board meeting, Guidry reviewed with the full board the information he presented last week to the finance committee.

This school year, three charter schools opened in the parish and 952 Lafayette Parish students enrolled in the schools, Guidry said.

He estimated that in 2015-16 the school system could realize a $1.4 million reduction in expenses related to charter school students who are no longer in the parish school system.

The first budget meeting is scheduled April 14 to discuss construction, food service and other accounts unrelated to the general fund. The first general fund meeting is scheduled May 12. If the board is able to stay on schedule, it could adopt a budget by June 17, Guidry said. That’s three months ahead of last year, when the School Board didn’t adopt a spending plan until Sept. 15. That budget’s implementation was delayed due to then-superintendent Pat Cooper’s objections to the board’s cuts, and not implemented until after Cooper’s termination in November.

Also Wednesday, the board on an 8-1 vote named its media center the Carol Ann Richard Media Center in memory of Richard, who was killed in a car accident Mardi Gras evening on Moss Street. Prior to casting the sole no vote, board member Elroy Broussard said he could appreciate the gesture, but “What do we do next time?”

Richard, 66, was a 20-year school system employee. Her vehicle was struck by a suspected drunken driver, Bryce Chapman, who was arrested for vehicular homicide, vehicular negligent injuring, second-offense operating while intoxicated and careless operation.

“Carol was an extremely special person who meant a whole lot to a whole lot of people,” said Patrick Hanisee, the school system’s library sciences specialist.

Hanisee read from a resolution that describes Richard as a woman with a selfless attitude whose creativity inspired countless employees.

Richard’s son-in-law, Doug Domingue, spoke on behalf of her family members who were present at Wednesday’s meeting and thanked the board for honoring Richard in such a special way.

“Thank you for a lasting tribute to a beautiful life,” Domingue said. “There was no deadline too tight … for our pint-sized dynamo.

“Her smile was contagious. Her creativity was boundless and her generosity was unconditional,” Domingue said. “I’d like to challenge everyone to emulate the way that Carol chose to live life.”

Follow Marsha Sills on Twitter, @Marsha_Sills.