CPSB to vote on teacher reductions to reduce budget deficit - KPLC 7 News, Lake Charles, Louisiana

CPSB to vote on teacher cuts to reduce budget deficit

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CALCASIEU PARISH, LA (KPLC) -

It's no secret the Calcasieu Parish School Board's projected budget for the 2013-2014 school year is nearly $13 million in the hole, and KPLC is learning teacher reductions is one of their options to reduce that deficit.

"It's almost impossible to get that big of a cut - $13 million - without touching that area," said Karl Bruchhaus, chief financial officer of the Calcasieu Parish School Board. 

That area is teacher layoffs. 

According to Brucchaus, over 80 percent of the school board's expenditures come from salaries and benefits. On Thursday, they'll present and vote on a plan that would reduce the number of teachers over a number of years.

But based on the preliminary numbers, they're looking at a reduction of just over 150 teachers for the 2013-2014 school year.   

"We have about 100 teachers that have already announced that they would be retiring," said Bruchhaus. "That would leave us 60 or so teachers we'd have to get through further reductions."

Teri Johnson, who serves as the president of the Calcasieu Federation of Teachers, thinks teachers should be the very last thing on the chopping block.  

"Economically, legislatively, things are changing rapidly," she said. "Sometimes there are reasons for a RIF, or a reduction in force, but we don't agree with targeting teachers first thing." 

"They're moving on so fast already with the curriculum that it's very hard for our children to keep up," said Crystal Daigle, Lake Charles resident. 

Daigle, whose two children attend a parish public school, agrees with Johnson. She said with teacher reductions, come the inevitable increase in classroom size. 

"When you increase the amount of students in a classroom - which is my main concern - it affects our children, because they can't get that, raise their hand and ask a question," said Daigle.

Bruchhaus said a teacher reduction would increase the student-teacher ratio from 17-1 to roughly 20-1, which he said, won't affect student performance. 

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