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Louisiana School Board Association

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BESE Responds to Action Alert - Wednesday, March 12, 2008

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Listen Up! BESE Responds to Action Alert
The Louisiana Board of Elementary and Secondary Education voted to ask lawmakers to increase basic state aid to public schools by $109 million, which is 37 percent more than Gov. Bobby Jindal requested.

The state Board of Elementary and Secondary Education had to act to meet a Saturday deadline for filing its funding request.
More than 60 local education officials were in the audience during the afternoon-long debate over the MFP.

The governor recommended an $80 million increase in basic state aid to public schools, in addition to other education initiatives. Included in the Governorís budget was a reduction of $2.5 million to the Department of Educationís request for LA-4 increases, and a $6 million strike-out for extra help the Department wanted to provide for high school drop-out reduction. LSBA President Noel Hammatt requested these elements be added, but BESE did not.

The BESE request includes:
  • A 2.75 percent increase in the base state spending per pupil, to $3,855 per student.
  • An increase in state aid for students from poor families to 23 percent more than rank-and-file students, up from 21 percent now. The Department had requested an increase to 25 percent. Nationally, schools budget 40% above standard for At-Risk students.
  • $14 million to help ensure that public schoolteachers receive across-the-board state pay raises of $1,019 per year.
The increase would apply to 56,595 teachers and other school personnel.
The boardís request totals $3.3 billion. Last year lawmakers approved an increase of nearly $200 million in basic state aid to public schools, a state record.
According to State Superintendent Paul Pastorek it will take a strong effort to obtain Gov. Jindalís acceptance of an MFP that exceeds the administration allowance by $29 million.
LSBA members, in talking to legislators, should be aware that oil and gas revenues to the state treasury will increase funds available from the base $80 per barrel used as a basis for the proposed 2008-09 budget. Each dollar increase in crude oil price adds $14 million to state revenue collections. Thus there is easily room to fund the MFP.