Oct 26, 2013 2:33 PM by katc

Calcasieu Parish considers school consolidations

With a projected deficit of $13.5 million for the 2014-2015 school year, the Calcasieu Parish School Board is in discussions to balance the budget by consolidating schools.

The American Press reported the school system's budget committee has not yet acted.

System Chief Financial Officer Karl Bruchhaus said the discussions are preliminary.

The preliminary budget outlook was presented about five months ahead of schedule in anticipation of the deficit. The School Board recently balanced its 2013-2014 budget by selling its Mossville property.

Bruchhaus said that if staff recommends closing specific schools, the system would have to determine that surrounding schools would be able to handle the influx of students from closed schools.

"How it all fits together will be like a puzzle," he said.

"We're making an effort to start this process early, so there are no surprises as next year approaches," Bruchhaus said.

Bruchhaus said staff will analyze where population has dropped.

"You have a population shift, which creates smaller classes and end up costing more," he said. "That's why in some schools we'll see that the total cost per pupil is higher when the school is smaller because class size breaks are not as efficient financially."

Bruchhaus attributed the projected deficit mainly to an increase in retirement costs and benefits. "We have to carve out in our budget for those things that we can't control," he said.

Staff will make recommendations to the board in the coming months.


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