School Board: Halt federal cuts

The Iberia Parish School Board voted unanimously Wednesday to support a resolution asking Congress to prevent $810,000 in cuts from impacting the school system’s budget as it relates to funding for special education.

Superintendent of Schools Dale Henderson said the 2011 federal Budget Control Act includes automatic cuts across the board to federal programs, including the Title One program and the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, if no action is taken by the end of the year.

Both programs provide $4.5 million each annually to the School Board for special education for a total of $9 million. The automatic cuts could be as high as 9 percent, the superintendent said, and should the cuts go into effect, the burden will fall to the school system to find the money.

The resolution says that if the federal funding is not preserved, the School Board may have to take cost-cutting measures, including layoffs. The resolution also says the school system has already suffered from federal funding cuts last year in addition to reductions in state and local funding.

Other items discussed during the meeting included:

NAME CHANGE: The board voted unanimously — with Clara Carrier not participating — to rename the Johns Hopkins Elementary School to Johnston Hopkins Elementary to avoid a legal dispute with Johns Hopkins University of Baltimore.

Board Legal Adviser Wayne Landry said the board should not have used the Johns Hopkins name initially as it does not represent the actual name of the two schools it is named after, Johnston Street and Hopkins Street elementaries. The schools were recently closed and a larger one was opened this school year.

Henderson said the new name will be the most cost-effective because of the many references to the school around campus using the “J” and “H” initials. He said the only major change would be the sign in front of the school, which Maintenance Department Supervisor Harry Lopez said would cost about $2,000.

Carrier said she did not agree with the vote as she came up with the original Johns Hopkins name.

PROPERTY SOLD: The board voted unanimously to sell the former Peebles Elementary School property near Lydia on Weeks Island Road to Tony Alleman of New Iberia for $50,100. Other bids came from Ricky Gonsoulin for $25,000 and Randy Migues for $25,100.

Henderson said that a formal bid process needs to be in place for selling property because many times people just call his office and make offers.

Landry said he required the potential buyers to submit their offers in writing.

No further action was taken on the agenda item.