Council bids Phillips farewell

Published 12:00 am Saturday, May 22, 1999

By MICHAEL KIRAL / L’Observateur / May 22, 1999

LULING – The St. Charles Parish School Board passed an interim budget forthe fiscal year 2000 at its meeting Wednesday night. It will retainteachers in place of permanent substitutes and maintain a staff for 10,000 students while calling for a reduction of 42 first-year replacement teachers and five special education teachers.

The budget also includes the continuing employment of second-year replacement teachers and has a fund balance of $4,403,400.

The measure passed by a 4-3 margin. Board members Mary Bergeron, WayneRoussel, Clarence Savoie and Stephen Crovetto were for adopting the budget, while members Alfred Green, Ronald St. Pierre and John Smithvoted against it.

Smith said the alternate budget comes at a time when the board is laboring on issues discussed in the budget. He pointed out that statisticsshow there is a decline in enrollment in the school system and that the system probably will not reach an enrollment of 10,000 students. He alsonoted that there was a shortfall in sales tax collection this year and there are indications that may continue. The Legislature is also consideringvarious proposals that might impact the system in a negative way, Smith said.

“Because of declining revenue the district is facing and the decline in student population we are projecting, I am not in a position to support this budget,” Smith said.

St. Pierre also noted there are many unknowns right now. St. Pierrepointed out the board does not know how many retirements or leaves there will be in the next year or what the Legislature will do.

“It is really a bad time for us to adopt a budget,” St. Pierre said. “But weneed one to let the teachers know where they stand.”Superintendent Rodney Lafon also noted those unknowns when asked by Savoie how comfortable he is with the alternate budget.

“As far as I can be dealing with a moving target,” Lafon responded. “I feltthe alternate budget might bring everybody together. But we are dealingwith a moving target here.”Bergeron noted the people that had been with the system more than one year had already undergone staff development and that the district had spent money on them.

“If we displace them, they take what we have taught them to other people’s children,” Bergeron said. “Let’s use the investment we have inthese teachers, keep them here and utilize them to teach the students of St. Charles Parish.”The board had met at a special session May 5 to discuss the budget. Lafonhad presented a budget with a $5.2 million in February and said hisalternate proposal passed Wednesday was made in order to give the board a possible middle of the road option.

St. Pierre had also recommended a budget that included the retaining ofteachers in place of permanent substitutes, maintaining staffing for 9,817 students, reducing the special education teachers by five, reducing second-year replacement teachers and reducing the 42 first-year replacement teachers, resulting in a fund balance of $5,056,000.

Both motions failed at the special meeting, and Smith suggested at the time that the board might want to consider an interim budget and after the legislative session adopt a final budget.

In other business, the board entered into an agreement with the St.

Charles Parish Council to provide facilities for the Summer Food Service program. The board also approved the fiscal agent extension with theState Department of Education Region 1 Service Center.

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