Stimulus money ‘dried up’ in Lafayette Parish schools
An already tight budget for Lafayette Parish schools will bring even tougher funding decisions to Lafayette Parish School Board members when they begin budget workshops next month - as the last of the $16 million in federal stimulus money used by the school district over the past two years is gone.
According to a report by Marsha Sills published Monday in The Advocate, the School Board - already faced with an additional $6 million in contribution to the state’s retirement system during this year’s budget process - has relied on $7.5 million in Title I stimulus money and $8.5 million in stimulus education money to fund the district’s newest preschool classes and an extended learning program that offers additional tutoring and enrichment to students after school.
But with the loss of the millions in federal stimulus dollars - and little optimism that the state will offer additional program money due to a BESE-approved freeze on school spending levels - the school system is looking into alternative funding sources while the School Board preps itself to make the ultimate decisions on which programs will continue receiving funding and whether any programs will be eliminated:
For the past two years, eight of the district’s 50 preschool classes have been funded by nearly $1.9 million in Title 1 stimulus funds. The additional funding made it possible for the district to expand its program to 3-year-olds.
The ... stimulus funds also paid for four of the dozen school sites that offered extended learning programs - after school enrichment and tutoring - and summer remediation for fourth- and eighth-graders who failted the LEAP test. LEAP remediation is a state requirement, but districts don’t receive additional funding to operate the sessions.
The report points out that last year, the school system entered its fiscal year with a $14 million deficit, which forced the School Board to streamline some programs and increase the student-teacher ratio. Those attempts, however, were not enough to make ends meet - and the board was forced to dip in to more than $5 million of its reserve fund.
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.