I’d like to share with you documented information on what’s happening in public school districts across our state, parish by parish. Several parishes have e-mailed me about their own particular economic situations. Other parishes are described by newspaper references over the past few weeks. All are documented.
I plan to update this list as we proceed with our objective to restore the frozen MFP growth factor, put an end to unfunded mandates, and restore the successful pre-K program funding, just three of many major issues that many of us plan to address with our legislature and BESE in the coming months. I’ll be sharing this with all parish school boards and all our legislators in the near future.
One of the most frequently-mentioned victims of declining state funding for public education is the successful pre-K program.
Two other frequently-mentioned reasons for the inability to provide adequate public education services at the local level are: 1) the third straight year of that frozen growth factor in the MFP formula; and 2) the governor’s and legislature’s passing of unfunded mandates on local parish school systems. As you all know, the unfunded mandates set up the need to use local revenue to fund state-sponsored programs, formerly paid by the state. This state micromanagement of local funding and budgetary decisions shortchanges local governing bodies, and sets them up in potentially adversarial roles with their local constituents.
Despite what critics say, these issues are not requests for additional funding; they are requests for what was promised, and formerly paid for, by the state.
Former State Supt. Paul Pastorek often said that “public school districts should learn to do more with less.”
Unfortunately for our students and ultimately our state, public school systems have been doing that year after year for several years. The short-term and long-term effects are predictable . . . and avoidable.
Any state that shortchanges its investment in public education is shortchanging itself.
Please feel free to use this information any way you can.
Mary K. Bellisario
Vice President, St. Tammany Parish School Board
Member, The Coalition for Louisiana Public Education