LAFAYETTE, Louisiana — Initial projections show that new charter schools in Lafayette Parish could mean a $7 million loss for the local district in the next fiscal year.
School system Chief Financial Officer Billy Guidry tells The Advertiser (http://bit.ly/1crIKYt ) the district expects revenues decrease by about $9.6 million, because state per-pupil funding — about $9,200 per student — will follow the students to the charter schools they attend.
However, the district could also reduce its expenses by about $2.7 million because of the charter schools, largely due to the expected loss of teaching slots. Other expense reductions would come in the form of lower transportation and meal costs, among others.
During a special Lafayette Parish School Board meeting Thursday, Guidry cautioned that those figures are only preliminary.
"These are just projections," he said. "We just don't know until we can determine where the children who enroll in charter schools were zoned and attending. There are still a lot of unknowns."
Three new charter schools are expected to open in Lafayette Parish in August, including two in the northern part of the parish and one in the Youngsville area. The companies that operate those charters — National Heritage Academies and Charter Schools USA — have previously said they plan to expand those schools in the future and ultimately build at least five schools.
Superintendent Pat Cooper said that, in his view, the district is getting three new schools next year for the $7 million cost.
The charter school impact is one part of a larger budget crunch facing the district, thanks to higher retirement costs, unfunded state mandates and other measures.
Guidry said that if the board does not agree to shift funds from the 2002 tax and fund balance, the district will have to cut about $10.4 million in expenses in the 2014-15 year.
Information from: The Advertiser, http://www.theadvertiser.com