Iberville SB objects to state funding formula for charter schools

The Iberville Parish School Board unanimously adopted a resolution Monday urging the state Board of Elementary and Secondary Education to re-evaluate how it funds local charter schools through local tax revenue.

The resolution came at the request of Linda Johnson, a former BESE board member who lives in the parish and who said it’s unfair that charter schools are allowed to receive funding meant for local public schools based simply on enrollment projections instead of actual student numbers.

Johnson’s address to the School Board during its regular meeting Monday night comes after the school district’s chief financial officer, Jolain Landry, said last week the school system will lose approximately $3.7 million in the upcoming school year in state Minimum Foundation Program per-pupil funding, based on the number of students estimated to be attending Iberville Charter Academy in the fall.

Landry voiced concerns over the MFP allocation to the charter school because it was based on a projected enrollment of 400 students — 376 of whom are from Iberville Parish.

However, Landry said the school district hadn’t received nearly half that many requests to transfer student records to the new charter.

The state Department of Education responded to Landry’s concerns by saying the school district would be refunded revenue if the charter school enrollment as of Oct. 1 doesn’t match the projection.

But Johnson told board members Monday night they’ll probably never see that money again.

“It’s like loaning your family money and they pay you back $50 here and $50 there; you don’t ever really see your money back,” Johnson said. “We don’t really know how much money y’all can afford to lose. It seems as if it would be better to have some resolution asking they be funded on the actual number of students enrolled.”

Johnson urged parish schools Superintendent Ed Cancienne to gain the support of the Louisiana School Boards Association because the effect of charter schools on local tax dollars is starting to become a trend throughout the state.

“You can get the other school districts in this,” she said. “They can all see this coming down the road. They can all see they’ll be in same situation.”

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