The roughly $5.5 million a year provided by the state for dual enrollment students earning college credits while still in high school has been cut from Gov. Bobby Jindal’s proposed budget for the 2012-2013 fiscal year.
The funding issue was brought to light through an article submitted by Ron Chapman, a businessman and history professor at Chalmette’s Nunez Community College who writes a regular column for The St. Bernard Voice. According to Chapman, 11,113 students statewide participated in the dual enrollment program during the fall of 2011, collectively earning 32,629 credit hours.
Asked about the program’s funding status, the governor’s Division of Administration spokesman Michael DiResto says that the program has not been eliminated, but its funding would, under Jindal’s budget, fall under the umbrella of the Minimum Foundation Program, which allocates a certain amount of money per student to districts based on a complex formula.
“[Dual enrollment] will be funded through the MFP at a level based on the number of students who participate, instead of at a set amount that limits participation,” DiResto says. “This initiative will expand dual enrollment options, allowing students to take up to five courses, while the dollars follow them, rather than funding the program through a line-item and limiting students to one class. Through this reform, state government will be able to increase dual enrollment options for students, and create a system that is more sustainable for taxpayers.”
According to data provided by Lafayette Parish School System Marketing Director Angie Simoneaux, Lafayette Parish public school students earned 218 credits at South Louisiana Community College; 155 credits at Acadiana Technical College, and 138 credits at UL Lafayette during the 2010-2011 school year. It’s not clear how much local universities and technical colleges received in reimbursement from the state last year, but The Monroe News Star reports that UL Monroe received $234,000 in reimbursement from the state this year alone:
ULM Outreach coordinator Marilyn McIntosh said until the program is officially funded by the Legislature, ULM has been making students aware that there is no guarantee.
“We’ve been letting kids know that at this point there is no money to fund Early Start for tuition payments (next year),” McIntosh said. “These students are scheduling classes with the understanding that there will be no funds to pay for the class. Hopefully that will change.”
Board of Elementary and Secondary Education member Holly Boffe, Lafayette’s BESE rep, says she believes that under the new funding formula, the $234,000 ULM received from the state this year would have been paid by the local school districts who send their students to ULM.
In other words, Boffe confirms, the program will still be available to students who choose to participate, but local districts will be forced to foot the bill without the roughly $5.5 million that the state has budgeted for the program in the past.
“The children can use that [MFP] money for different programs,” Boffe says. “The districts had line-item budgets for this type of thing in the past they received additional funding from the state. This is where the districts get so angry. But when things aren’t part of MFP all it takes is a strike on the budget for those programs to disappear.”
In his submission, Chapman blasts the funding cuts for the program, noting that “the cost of this progressive educational endeavor ... is a pittance for the return in investment.”
“This state spills that much!” Chapman writes. “The hope is that individual schools will ‘find’ the money in their own Minimum Foundation Budgets to finance this need. I laude the governor for trying his best to balance the state’s dismal finances, however, it might be wise to look beyond education and health care to meet the needs. In the rush to trim expenses, Louisiana has destroyed one of the most progressive educational programs the state has developed in years.”
MAY 21 Gambit columnist Clancy DuBos writes about the Mother's Day shooting, and how the stages of shock and blame and healing mirror those traveled by the same city following Hurricane Katrina. The city will recover, just as it did following the storm, by reaching out to help the people injured most seriously by the event, DuBos writes. It's how we heal, he says.
MAY 21 Here's a post on the Advocate (but buried on a subpage, not on the front) that reports something Louisiana Voice reported some time ago: a top DOE official lives in Los Angeles and "commutes" to Baton Rouge. The positioning of the story caused a stir on Facebook Monday, with several posters asking if the Advocate was covering someone's hiney. Sentell's stories on DOE are notoriously soft, and this one is no different: don't expect any hard questions in here.
MAY 21 Here's another post from blogger Tom Aswell about the "course choice" program. He's already reported on kids being signed up without their consent or knowledge, and has more here: For example, he tells of a six-year-old who was signed up for high school Latin. He also digs a little deeper into the sister companies of the main one operating in Louisiana; all of them seem to have complaints against them. Stinky.
MAY 21 Given the 80 percent cut in higher ed funding since he's been in office, it's clear Gov. Jindal would rather give tax cuts to out of state companies than have a functioning system, blogger Dayne Sherman argues in this post. The cuts have been such a disaster, Sherman says, that it will take 30 years to fix what's been broken. He says he believes the aim is to shut down most of the schools before Jindal leaves in 2016.
MAY 21 Blogger CB Forgotston says there are too many elections in Louisiana, and they're costing us too much money. The proof is in the pudding: turnout for most of these nonsensical pollings gets worse and worse, CB opines, even as millions of dollars that could be spent on health care or higher ed go down the tubes. The legislature must take action to stem the tide of pointless elections, he says.
MAY 21 Here's an interesting investigative piece by WVUE on the retirement benefits of some Jefferson Parish public employees. According to the story, the taxpayers are paying 100 percent of the retirement contributions of employees who started work prior to a certain date in April 1986 -- and have done for more than 30 years. It costs the parish millions annually, and might not be legal, the story reports.
MAY 21 This post on Bayou Buzz provides insight from Louisiana's intrepid pollster, Bernie Pinsonat, on the winners and losers from this year's legislative session. But to hear Bernie tell it, there's almost nuttin but losers: Jindal, the Republican party, the Fiscal Hawks all get big goose eggs in his win column.
MAY 20 This post on The Lens takes a look at a huge (either $500K or $250K) bill that one NOLA charter now has for school lunches. The RSD says the charter group didn't fill out the proper paperwork for federal reimbursement, but the story details how the RSD didn't ensure the people running the charter had the proper training, despite requests from hapless charter employees trying to fill out forms. Either way, somebody's asleep at the wheel.
David Calhoun and Elizabeth “EB” Brooks are the first two employees of Lafayette Central Park Inc., the nonprofit charged with turning Lafayette Consolidated Government’s 100-acre Johnston Street Horse Farm property into a passive public park. Calhoun was named executive director, and Brooks is director of planning and design.
There will soon be a whole lot of shakin’ going on at Benny’s Sportshack Supplement Depot, a new concept by Opelousas native Benny Nele. Located at 2002 Johnston St., the supplement shop, smoothie bar and café, featuring hot off the press paninis and wraps, plans to open in late May.