Cooper presenting another budget proposal to Lafayette board

Superintendent Pat Cooper is putting another balanced budget proposal on the table for the Lafayette Parish School Board to consider at its meeting Thursday in lieu of the board’s previously approved cuts.

The board has rejected previous balanced budget proposals from Cooper, though his latest proposal does not include any further reduction of the general fund’s rainy day account. The board recommended and approved using about $1.3 million from the rainy day account to bridge a shortfall in its general fund at its last budget meeting July 31.

Since mid-May, the board has held meetings — some stretching more than six hours — to identify general fund cuts rather than accept budgets proposed by Cooper and his staff.

Cooper is proposing to restore some of the money the board cut for such items as textbook purchases and other programs and services by reducing the amount allocated for capital outlay projects and by adjusting revenue projections to reflect sales tax revenues that came in higher than expected this spring.

A priority list of instructional material purchases is on the agenda for the board to consider at its meeting at 5:30 p.m. Thursday. The board rejected prior staff requests to purchase the materials before the school year started, and members later removed those purchases from the budget during its review process.

His newest proposal also reflects some of the budget changes supported by the board, such as eliminating smaller capital fund projects that were to be paid from the general fund budget and reducing the number of appeals for extra regular and special education teachers.

Cooper’s budget proposal is boosted by an adjustment of $2.7 million in sales tax revenue that was collected between March and June and wasn’t included in previous budget documents.

Cooper also wants to transfer $4 million in the capital projects fund and to eliminate another $2.5 million in planned capital outlay projects.

The fiscal year ended June 30.

The board has until Sept. 15 to adopt a budget, though community leader, Greg Davis has challenged the delay in passing a spending plan and has filed a federal lawsuit asking the court to intervene.

On Monday, Davis asked for a quicker intervention, filing a request for a preliminary injunction. He is asking the court to force the board to comply with a state law that requires political agencies to roll forward into the new fiscal year with 50 percent of their prior year’s budget if it fails to adopt a new budget before the end of the fiscal year.

In his lawsuit and preliminary injunction application, Davis alleges that the board’s proposed budget cuts board could unfairly impact disadvantaged and minority students in the district.

His lawsuit also seeks to protect Cooper’s job and asks the court to disqualify board members Mark Babineaux and Tehmi Chassion from any votes related to future potential termination proceedings against Cooper based on their alleged bias against the superintendent.

Follow Marsha Sills on Twitter, @Marsha_Sills.