Aug 17, 2010 5:10 PM by Melissa Canone

13 School Board Candidates' Responses to Issues in the Races-Question 2

The School Board is facing continued reduction in state funding. What changes, if any, would you propose for the 2011 and 2012 annual budgets for Lafayette Parish School System?

Lafayette Parish School Board
District 1

Mark Allen Babineaux is unopposed

(No response offered.)

Lafayette Parish School Board
District 2

Greg Davis
I would advocate that we restore the $4.5 million that was taken from maintenance as a down payment on a career tech school. I would publicly acknowledge that current graduation rates of 67% and below-grade-level performance for many students are unacceptable. I would advocate an education plan that restructures the delivery of education so that we can first expect and then achieve 95% graduation rates and 95% grade level performance. A long term business plan should accompany the education plan to provide the financial strategy to execute within current revenues. These plans should be developed with meaningful input from teachers, principals and community partners. They should be transparent and have both short and long term benchmarks for accountability.

Tommy Angelle
All educational programs being utilized by the system should be continually evaluated to determine which are effective. Those that are not should be eliminated. Likewise, all areas of the budget should be examined to justify expenditures. Those that do not have a direct impact on the classroom should be more closely scrutinized when budget reductions are necessary due to reductions in state funding or drop off in local revenue. I would make facilities maintenance funding one of my priorities.

Lafayette Parish School Board
District 3

Shelton J. Cobb is unopposed

(No response offered.)

Lafayette Parish School Board
District 4

Tehmi Chassion
Some of the possible changes would revolve around academies and central office staff. Within the past few years, LPSS has started various academies of all walks of life. Although these academies give tremendous insight and opportunities to children early on in life, the focus has shifted and since been lost on what is most important, the core curriculum. With only 55% of high school kids in this area performing at grade level and below 70% graduating on time, making sure all children are receiving the basics should take precedence over everything. Furthermore, the excessive number of central office staff, who although perform the intangibles day in day out, are simply not involved in the direct educational process and thus put strains on much needed resources.

Gwen Harris
I would be cautious in budgeting for 2011 and 2012. Although the economy may improve, I would pattern the budget for 2011 and 2012 after the current year without expecting any increase in revenue.

Lafayette Parish School Board
District 5

Junius "June" Andres
The budget process is a complicated and lengthy process and it appears that the Board and Staff did a great job in building the current Budget. For the 2011 Budget I would start from scratch by building a Zero based Budget. In the process I would look for duplications of services and if possible combining departments with similar functions. The same process would be used for the 2012 Budget.

Kermit Bouillion
In light of the current state and local economy, I would petition our state lawmakers to honor projects and budget items that they have enacted in the past. Locally, I would ask all school administrators to closely monitor current spending and sharpen the pencil on certain line items. These items would include certain utility costs, unnecessary costs associated with absorbing recurring programs not fully funded by grants beyond the first year, and costs associated with contracting for work outside of our school system.

Dean Landry
I would reevaluate Schools of Choice programs, busing, block scheduling, and non-teaching staff. Since instituting the 20+ academies, our test scores have fallen behind other districts' and busing costs have skyrocketed to over $17M. Block scheduling in high schools requires more teachers and reduces instructional time in core classes. We need to stop sinking money into programs to revive failing schools, like $167K for the STEM academy at NP Moss, but instead use it to attract strong school leaders with merit pay bonuses based on student achievement gains. Additionally, let's review job descriptions and the necessity and effectiveness of non-teaching employees and consider consolidating positions or moving them back into classrooms.

Lafayette Parish School Board
District 6

Greg Awbrey
It is impossible to determine what your budget is going to be until you know what your funding level and cost changes will be. It is impossible to know what you are going to have to cut or change until you know what funds you have to work with. In the last four years, we have had many last minute surprises entering the budget process. Some were good, but we were usually sent scrambling to find funds due to state "changes in the way MFPs are calculated." The current board has shown a commitment to balance the budget and has done so for each of the past four years.

Dudley E. LaBauve, III
The current budgeting process is a mystery, and it is difficult to even find the budget on the LPSS website. What exists only includes the immediate school year. We need a budget that shows the next 3-5 years so that the impact of School Board decisions can be seen over time. And the budget should be completed well before July 1 which is the start of the LPSS fiscal year. That way it can be used as a planning tool. The budget should also include accountability for everyone, including LPSS staff, board members, superintendent, parents, and community.

Lafayette Parish School Board
District 7

Mark Cockerham
With the proposed cuts that have already been made, I don't foresee any major cuts that will be needed in the 2011 & 2012 budget.

Thomas Brown
I propose the annual budget to be examined to include a proforma, an accounting indicating hypothetical financial figures based on previous business operations for a three year program. This will allow a reliable view of budget projections and revenue producing source. Also the bonds capability should be examined to see if refinancing would be practical.

Lafayette Parish School Board
District 8

Hunter Beasley
Measures have been taken this year and should be taken in subsequent years that address reduction in state funding as well as reduced sales tax collections. At this time the school system is maintaining services but the School Board needs to exercise caution in any projects that will increase debt/expenditures for the upcoming years.

Arlecia Hill
The 2010-2011 budget focused on reductions at the school level by reviewing factors like ineffective practices at the elementary, middle, and high school level. During May, a team visited each school to educate the employees and encourage them to participate in a survey to help decide which of three options would be best. The recommendations involved ranged from increasing class size to match the state student to teacher ratio to utilizing the fund balance. The survey received 1,629 voters. 68.1% or 1,109 voters chose option #3 which estimated an available funding amount of $14,082,532. For the 2011-2012 budget, I would suggest the district level would need to evaluate where sacrifices of this magnitude could be made.

Lafayette Parish School Board
District 9

Rae B. Trahan is unoppsosed

(No response offered.)



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