CLINTON — Twenty East Feliciana Parish school employees could lose their jobs within a month because of a drop in student enrollment, Superintendent Henderson Lewis Jr. said Thursday.
The parish’s budget is based, in part, on state appropriations through the Minimum Foundation Program for 1,956 students, certified public accountant Tommy LeJeune told the board’s Finance Committee.
However, the September enrollment has averaged 1,855 students, and the state will base its MFP appropriation on the number of students enrolled Monday.
The loss of 101 students will translate to a decrease of $618,500 in state aid for the year, LeJeune said.
Lewis said the district also has to look realistically at paying additional money for employees who elect to retire and have accrued leave time, along with higher costs for unemployment payments.
The resulting deficit could be about $800,000, he said.
Lewis said the district will have to cut about 20 people to cover the deficit because the state will cut the MFP formula in the last quarter of the fiscal year.
“This is very unfortunate, especially in a district that must make big (academic) gains in a short period of time,” said Lewis, adding he hopes to avoid affecting classroom instruction.
Lewis said only three East Feliciana Parish students received state vouchers to attend charter or church schools outside the parish, and six former public school high students transferred to the new ninth-grade class at Slaughter Community Charter School, which was accepted by the board several years ago.
Others might have enrolled in the charter’s seventh and eighth grades.
Committee members said they will bring the bad news to the full board Tuesday, and the board might hold a special meeting to hear the superintendent’s reduction-in-force plan.
Member Paul Kent said the shortfall will have to be addressed as soon as possible.
Asked by member Debra Spurlock Haynes if he would consider pay cuts, Lewis replied that he doesn’t support salary decreases because the budget already reflects a salary freeze.
He said a lot of employees would leave if their salaries were cut and instruction would suffer.
In addition to the general fund woes, the Finance Committee and Building Committee discussed two other major financial headaches — finding money to replace heating and air conditioning control panels at two schools and a long list of repairs needed in school cafeterias.