CPSB expecting budget cuts - KPLC 7 News, Lake Charles, Louisiana

CPSB expecting budget cuts

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CALCASIEU PARISH, LA (KPLC) -

It's tough budgetary times for the Calcasieu Parish School Board and the school system most likely faces an even tougher future. 

CPSB will have to make cuts to specific areas in the coming years to help pay for rising benefit and retirement costs, and it's not just here in Calcasieu experiencing budget issues -- it's across the state. 

But when it comes to cuts, school board officials said they will make sure to do what's right for the students and employees. 

The current general fund budget for the CPSB is $280 million. It's also known as the operating account or the "melting pot," according to Chief Financial Officer Karl Bruchhaus.

"We don't want any bad fiscal surprises. So, we try to anticipate and be as conservative as we can when we craft our budgets," Bruchhaus said.

But this year, and the years ahead, come with many new challenges when looking at the budget.

In the general fund budget, 84 percent of the $280 million is salaries and benefits.

"The problem that we're going to face down the road and immediately next year is that we're going to probably have about an $8 million benefit cost increase next year alone. With about $5 million of that in retirement costs and about $3 million in health insurance costs," Bruchhaus said.

That's an increase that will cause some strain when preparing a budget for the next fiscal year. Budget-wise, the CPSB will see tough times ahead as cuts will have to be made.

But it's hard to tell where those cuts will be made, Bruchhaus said.

"With the cuts that've been made in the last five years, we've gotten pretty lean," Bruchhaus said. "So, it's going to be very challenging and I'd hate to even speculate yet as to where we would look. I don't think anything's off the table."

Bruchhaus said they'd like to plan for the future, but said it's impossible to do a long-term plan when costs might change.

"What we try to do in the challenging times is we need to maintain integrity of what we do for our children every day. We need to protect the classroom as much as we can. We need to protect education as much as we can. So everything else has to be looked at first," he said.

Taking everything into consideration before crafting next year's budget is the next step.

Bruchhaus said it's impossible to say that salaries and benefits won't be effected, but hopes to minimize the effect on the classroom as much as possible when cuts start to take place. 

He, along with the CPSB, are expected to craft a near balanced budget which will be presented this summer. 

You can also check out the full interview with Karl Bruchhaus for more on the where the school board's budget stands and where it is heading.

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