LAFAYETTE, Louisiana — The Lafayette Parish school system may have to assign more students to each teacher, cut time for physical education and operate with reduced staff in the 2013-2014 school year because of a financial crisis.
The Daily Advertiser reports (http://bit.ly/YrR9JO) district officials will outline the situation at presentations to school administrators this week. The School Board will review the proposed budget and suggest changes at workshops throughout May.
Although tax revenue has remained strong, most of the money goes toward facility improvements.
Billy Guidry, the district's chief financial officer, said the district starts the budget process with a projected shortfall of $12 million.
The shortfall stems from funding issues with the state's Minimum Foundation Program, higher costs for employee retirement contributions, the loss of state and federal grants and the requirement that the school system must transfer some funding to specialty state schools and support vouchers.
To help offset the deficit, the district is proposing several measures. A one-mile walk zone could be implemented, where students who live close to schools would walk rather than ride buses. Sabbaticals might be reduced or eliminated, and the district may eliminate middle school "teaming," in which more teachers are hired and are given time each day to plan lessons and meet with students. The district may also increase its student-teacher ratio by one student per class.
"There's not much left to cut that will not inconvenience people. That's where we are," Superintendent Pat Cooper said. "With this year's budget, people are going to feel it. What we are trying to do is make these cuts in a way so the teachers and students don't feel it as much. We're trying to avoid anything that would really harm the classroom."
Information from: The Advertiser, http://www.theadvertiser.com