CLINTON — The East Feliciana Parish School Board faces the possibility of laying off a school administrator, 10 teachers and eight support workers later this month to avoid a possible $800,000 deficit this fiscal year.
School Superintendent Henderson Lewis Jr. on Tuesday presented a possible way to cut personnel for an estimated net savings of $830,000 in the rest of the school year.
The district based its 2012-13 general fund budget on the February enrollment of 1,956 students, but the Oct. 1 enrollment this school year was only 1,860 students, a loss of nearly 100 pupils and a resulting loss in state aid.
Lewis raised the possible need for reducing the number of employees during a Finance Committee meeting last week and presented a more detailed look Tuesday at how a reduction-in-force decision could be made.
Finance Committee Chairman Richard Terrell set a 5 p.m. Oct. 10 meeting to discuss the proposal in more detail, while board President Michael Bradford called a special meeting for 5 p.m. Oct. 16.
Lewis said the district is “living month-to-month (with expenses) because we don’t have any reserves.”
He said he waits for the state appropriation check to arrive around the 25th of each month to make sure the board has enough money for monthly payrolls.
He said he then signs requisitions and invoices with a priority system.
“Some bills sit because there’s not enough money,” he said, adding later, “We can no longer operate like this.”
Act 1 of the recent legislative session spells out how layoffs are to occur, with effectiveness in the classroom trumping seniority. However, the system is geared to end-of-the-year personnel reductions, not layoffs in the middle of the year, Lewis said.
He said an alternative to reducing staff would be an across-the-board, 8 percent pay cut, which would deduct about $320 per month from a teacher’s paycheck.
Bradford said the district is feeling the effects of funding the Slaughter charter school, and said the board may have to act to limit its growth.
Bradford also said the board must persuade the public to support a tax increase for public schools.
Lewis also called for tighter planning for next year’s budget, including an effort in May to find out how many students plan to return to school in the fall.
Other topics before the board included:
DRAKE VISITS: Warren Drake, former Zachary superintendent who now heads a 20-district state “network,” told the board he has 15 “coaches” available to help the district get ready for the new “Common Core” curriculum standards being implemented in 46 states.
Of eight other goals set for districts, East Feliciana is behind the state curve in seven.
“You have to get better quickly. You don’t want the state to take over your schools,” he said.
REDISTRICTING: The board approved a redistricting plan based on the 2010 census with Dixon Correctional Institute inmates not counted in the population. Member Rufus Nesbitt voted against the plan.