Board vote on EBR schools budget delayed

An expected Thursday night vote on next year’s budget for the East Baton Rouge Parish school system has been postponed to give School Board members and the public more time to consider additional money the system will receive.

“We have until September to adopt a general fund budget,” said Superintendent Bernard Taylor. “I don’t anticipate a significant delay in this.”

At issue is almost $9 million more in additional money the school system will receive from various recent court and legislative actions that need to be taken into account. In addition, Taylor said, there are at least two board members who won’t be able to attend Thursday’s meeting.

Taylor said he felt it is important to make sure all 11 board members get a chance to comment on the budget.

Although the general fund budget won’t be voted on, there will be a number of budgets for programs that have federal funding sources that will go to the board for votes to get those budgets approved by the end of the fiscal year June 30.

Board President David Tatman said the decision was made Tuesday to remove the general fund vote from the agenda and give the board and the public more time to consider recent additional money the system is expected to receive.

“With some new dollars, maybe it would be better to hold off for a couple weeks,” Tatman said. “There will be a lot of questions about those dollars and how they can best be used.”

The School Board had been discussing a $426.6 million budget that included $6.2 million in cuts. However, it didn’t include a state education funding formula the Legislature approved this year which will bring about $69 million in additional money to public schools. Half of that money is required to be used for pay raises for teachers and other certified school employees and the other half can be used at the district’s discretion.

The East Baton Rouge Parish school system also expects additional money to be available due to a Louisiana Supreme Court ruling that it was unconstitutional for the state’s voucher program to use money from the state’s per pupil funding program called the Minimum Foundation Program.

The voucher program continues, but is being paid for through the state’s general revenue instead. The voucher program allows qualifying students who attend failing public schools to attend private and parochial schools instead using taxpayer dollars.