As two Louisiana teacher’s unions move forward with lawsuits in an effort to block the use of public school dollars on private/parochial school educations, a 2010 lawsuit challenging the state’s public school-funding formula could have even more damaging implications for the state if successful in court.
According to a report from The Alexandria Town Talk, the target of the two union lawsuits challenging the method through which the state plans to fund Gov. Bobby Jindal’s private school voucher program — the state’s Minimum Foundation Program — is also tied to a 2010 lawsuit filed on behalf of St. Helena Parish teachers and school board members who contend that the state Board of Elementary and Secondary Education’s use of local sales tax collections as a determinant in how much money each school district receives from the state is an illegal practice that has cost local school districts a combined $4.8 billion since 2007.
MFP breaks down into a per-pupil dollar amount that the state gives local school boards. It’s calculated through a complex formula that factors in both local and state dollars, with the state’s allocation being “the total — minus the local portion,” explains Brian Blackwell, the attorney representing St. Helena in the lawsuit:
The primary law addressed in the lawsuit is R.S.17, Section 97.1 ... the law states “no portion of the proceeds derived from any sales tax levied and collected by a parish or city school board shall be used or taken into consideration in any formula adopted by the Louisiana State Board of Elementary and Secondary Education and submitted to the legislature for approval.”
Joan Hunt, general counsel for the state Department of Education, acknowledged Friday that local sales tax “is a factor in the calculation of local wealth. That’s the subject of the lawsuit.”
Asked whether that practice conflicts with the law, she said “That’s their argument. A court will decide this.”
She said she would not comment on the state’s case because “it is ongoing litigation.”
BESE did try to get the lawsuit dismissed as having no merit but Judge Wilson Fields, who is handling the case, threw those motions out.
Blackwell said that based on his research, BESE’s including sales taxes in the calculation reduced school systems’ receipts statewide an average of between $800 million and $900 million a year.
To post a comment, please log into your IND account. If you do not have an account, click the "register" button to create one. Facebook comments can be used as an alternative to creating an account at theIND.com.
JUL 22 The University of Louisiana at Lafayette is "a lock" to win the Sun Belt Conference in football, Fox Sports opines in this post. There's a rundown of the other teams in the conference, but ULL is predicted to win the conference, thanks in large part to an "explosive" offense. Is it football season yet?
JUL 22 Columnist Stephanie Grace says Gov. Bobby Jindal may be meeting with state education officials (hey - you mean HIS education officials, don't you, Steph?) but it is clear he's not looking for a solution in the Common Core fracas. Bobby wants an issue he can take on the road, and this one seems to be it, she says.
JUL 22 Columnist Jim Beam finds recent news out of Baton Rouge depressing. It seems every time you turn around there's another mess being uncovered or announced in state government, he says. Say what you want about Congress; in Louisiana we have nothing to brag about, either, he says.
JUL 22 Blogger Tom Aswell reports here that several legislators plan to ask for an investigation of the last-minute action that bumped State Police Commander Mike Edmonson's annual retirement income by $30K. One is gubernatorial candidate John Bel Edwards, who says he did vote for the amendment, but didn't read it - as he rarely does during the last hours of session.
JUL 22 This is a fascinating piece in the Picayune about the murder of a doctor in her St. Charles Avenue home 50 years ago. It's fascinating because of the mysteries and myths that have swirled around the incident for those decades, and because of the possible connection to the assassination of John F. Kennedy. There are a lot of interesting names in here, including Ochsner and Marcello, and as usual the comments below the story are nearly as entertaining as the story itself.
JUL 22 LaPolitics examines the news that a bipartisan group of legislators filed court papers Monday asking a judge to decide if BESE followed proper procedure in installing Common Core as the curriculum to be followed by state teachers. The allegation is that BESE didn't do that, by failing to open a comment period and shirking legislative oversight. Great, but where were these guys back when the decision was actually made?
JUL 22 Here's a love letter from New York Daily News' Alex Palmer to Louisiana. In some ways it is the typical tourism article (with pronunciation guides and food definitions) but in another way it goes beyond that to list lesser-known spots to visit for food or tours.
JUL 22 This post on Gambit is an interesting look at an age-old discussion among people who live and work in urban areas - is graffiti property damage or public art? There are a lot of voices in this story, covering a lot of the bases of this conflict.
JUL 21 Education Week's EdWatch blog takes a look at our current snafu over Common Core in this post. To anyone outside the state, we certainly look like a bunch of dummies who can't agree on something as critical as what to teach our kids. That's good - right?
JUL 21 Rob Marciano, a former meteorologist at KPLC in Lake Charles, has been named senior weather guy at ABC, this post on TVNewser reports. In between those gigs he worked for CNN and Entertainment Tonight.
JUL 21 This story on The ABC out of Australia gives Louisiana some international notoriety that we really don't want. According to this story, Louisiana is one of the fastest-disappearing land masses on the planet. The planet. So, obviously we need to hold off on that levee board suit, because making Big Oil mad is much more serious than this.
Read the Flipping Paper!
Click Here for the Entire Print Version of IND Monthly