School districts could inherit state debts

By Crystal Price - bio | email

JENNINGS, LA (KPLC) - Governor Bobby Jindal has proposed to shift $14 million in transportation and salary expenses from the state to local public school districts next school year.

State Superintendent Paul Pastorek said school systems have unspent money in reserves along with federal stimulus dollars to cover the costs.

However, Jeff Davis Parish school officials said a huge percentage of their reserve money goes for other purposes.

David Clayton, superintendent of Jeff Davis Parish Schools, said one-third of the district's reserve fund goes for paying retirement insurance and another one-third goes to paying on school bonds.

This proposal would force schools to not only use money from their reserves, but also turn to their general funds as well.

While 86 percent of the general fund goes for personnel and salaries, the other 14 percent goes to classroom programs.

"When we try to cut the budget in Jeff Davis, it's hard to find a place to cut in that remaining 14 percent," said Clayton.

This would force the district to cut funds in the areas of test prep programs, bus transportation, and employee retirement.

"It shouldn't be passed down to us in these hard economic times because we are struggling with the same cuts that they are struggling with," said Clayton.

Although Clayton is not happy with the proposal, he hopes the state will give the schools some type of increase to help the schools if they do inherit the state debt.

Lawmakers plan to create a final version of the 2010-11 budget in June.

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