Assumption joins MFP formula lawsuit

The Assumption Parish School Board voted 8-1 on Wednesday to join a lawsuit filed by St. John the Baptist Parish’s board challenging the state’s per-pupil Minimum Foundation Program funding formula.

Assumption’s move brings the number of school boards involved in the suit to 47 of the 69 school boards in the state, board member Lee Meyer said during the board’s meeting at Labadieville Middle School.

The Louisiana School Boards Association also has looked into pursuing the suit, board member John Beck said.

“LSBA is a stakeholder in this,” said Meyer, who also serves as the president-elect of the statewide group.

Plaintiffs in the suit are seeking payment of a 2.75 percent “growth factor” that’s been included in past Minimum Foundation Programs, Meyer said.

Although the state Legislature approved the growth factor funding in the 2011-12 budget, Meyer said, the 2.75 percent was not funded by the state in the 2012-13 budget.

“We feel like, with LSBA and now 47 districts involved, we can professionally ask for what’s rightfully ours,” he said.”

Board member Larry Howell, who cast the only vote against the resolution, said he’d rather see the board work to keep the 2.75 percent growth factor schools received in the 2013-14 state budget intact, rather than chase increases it did not receive.

“This state has had major budget cuts,” he said. “Now, we’re going to go back and say we want our increases we didn’t get? No one else is going back asking to give back cuts, because the money is still not there.”

Beck, who supported the resolution, said that because the lawsuit is not a class-action suit, boards that don’t join as plaintiffs risk losing out on millions of dollars if the suit succeeds.

“We’re a small school system with limited resources,” Beck said, noting that the parish will not have to pay legal fees to take part in the suit. “We have a responsibility to our constituents to participate. We have nothing to lose.”

Meyer noted, “We may or may not benefit at all from this, but we can’t get something we don’t ask for.”