Legislative Report

BESE targets ‘severely impacted’ school districts

by Sarah Gamard, Manship School News Service

Board of Elementary and Secondary Education President Gary Jones, left, and Superintendent of Education John White discuss a legislative recommendation to BESE’s plan to fund Louisiana’s public schools.
Photo by Sarah Gamard

The Board of Elementary and Secondary Education unanimously moved Thursday to incorporate $18 million of legislative suggestions into its funding formula for Louisiana’s public schools next year, but not at the expense of other programs.

The House Education Committee Wednesday turned down House Concurrent Resolution 7, which included BESE’s public school funding plan for next year. The Legislature must accept or reject BESE’s budget. It cannot amend or adjust the plan, which was submitted in March.

Instead, the committee recommended two new provisions, which increase chances of the public school funding plan passing the Legislature, and sent it to the BESE board, which met in special session the next morning.

One provision gives assistance to the “most severely impacted districts” from the August 2016 flood, which caused many students to exit their home schools. The new funding budget would add $4.2 million in state general funds to Livingston Parish, $360,000 to Tangipahoa Parish, and $2.8 million to East Baton Rouge Parish.

The second provision gives safeguards against a major projected student enrollment decline in Vernon Parish. The U.S. Army predicts major deployment of soldiers, which could cause a major enrollment decline and a financial crisis.

This added funding increases to $25 million the extra money requested for public schools.