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 20 This post by blogger CB Forgotston draws parallels between Gov. Bobby Jindal and two individuals he probably doesn't want to be aligned with: President Obama and former governor Edwin Edwards. CB says Jindal's trying to jack up the debt ceiling (an Obama play, according to CB) and buy votes from GOP leges who normally wouldn't go for that (an Edwards play, CB says).
MAY 20 Here's a post in the Baptist Message from an alumnus of Louisiana College. The author, Larry Burgess, calls on the leadership of the private school to take care of some pressing problems. Physical plant issues are critical and unaddressed, some faculty make so little they need government health care, and there is an atmosphere that does not encourage honest discussion, he writes. It's time to get things back in order, he says.
MAY 20 This post in Gambit tells of a benefit concert scheduled to raise money for the 19 people shot during a Mother's Day second line on Frenchmen Street in NOLA. Among them was Gambit blogger Deb Cotton, who spoke frequently about violence in the city and reported on the city's second line culture. Gambit's foundation, along with other NOLA non-profits, also is selling t-shirts to raise money for the victims.
MAY 20 Blogger Robert Mann is critical of the personal interest some legislators take in their work here, sharing the comments one NOLA solon made in explaining his decision to vote against a bill that would require people to stop discriminating against female workers. His wife might lose some salary, so he was going to have to vote against the equal pay bill, Conrad Appel said. Appel and everyone who heard him should have been ashamed, but they weren't, and that's what is wrong in that building, Mann argues.
MAY 20 American Press columnist Jim Beam writes about the budget again here, urging kudos for the House and its efforts to try to fix the budget as opposed to passing on a flawed and messy rubber-stamped document as it usually does. The Senate already is poo-pooing the effort, but instead Senators should be trying to find a way to improve it as well, Beam argues. He also has some predictions in here from LABI and CABL.
MAY 20 Here's a link to the photo gallery from Tulane's graduation this past weekend. Dr. John and Allen Toussaint played together and received honorary degrees. The Dalai Lama was so entranced by their performance he got up from his seat and walked across the stage to stand next to them. He even participated in a second line with his own personal, saffron-colored umbrella. To the graduates, he urged them to think about creating a peaceful, hopeful life and society.
MAY 20 This Picayune story questions the rhetoric of NOLA officials who say the city, aside from having a "murder problem," is safe. The talking points generally are that the criminals are killing each other, but everything else is OK. The police chief there says that even Lafayette is more dangerous than NOLA. But crime experts interviewed here say that NOLA's numbers indicate one of two things: either people are so used to violence they don't report it, or somebody's "fudging the numbers."
MAY 20 The Advocate's Mark Ballard writes about some of the background maneuvering that took place during the development of budget alternatives in the Legislature. From Rep. Joel Robideaux being called a "tax and spend liberal" to robo-call influence, Ballard lets us in on some of the work that happens behind the scenes but usually doesn't make it into the Advocate's daily coverage of the session.
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.
Is it a crime for citizens to photograph, video, or take notes of a police officer in the line of duty, or a right protected by the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution? Locally, such activity, as witnessed recently, will at the very least result in a night spent behind bars.
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.