CPSB joins MFP lawsuit

CPSB joins MFP lawsuit
(Source: Erica Bivens/KPLC)
(Source: Erica Bivens/KPLC)

CALCASIEU PARISH, LA (KPLC) - The Calcasieu Parish School Board now joins almost 50 other Louisiana Public School Districts in a lawsuit.

On Tuesday, CPSB voted to join the fight, in hopes of recovering some $200 million statewide.

Districts in the lawsuit are asking the courts to hold the state accountable to pay them according to the Minimum Foundation Program (MFP) formula from several years ago.

A state court ruled earlier this year that the suit did not warrant class-action status, which is why local districts were required to join individually.

The Calcasieu Parish School Board is the latest to join an education lawsuit against the state.

At Tuesday's board meeting, the decision was unanimous. Plaintiffs in the suit are seeking payment of a 2.75 percent growth factor that's been included in past MFPs.

Karl Bruchhaus, Chief Financial Officer for the CPSB said, "The state funding formula for school funding called the Minimum Foundation Program has had a stagnant per pupil amount since 2008-09. Over that time period, districts have asked for in per pupil amount for inflationary costs of growth."

Bruchhaus says the lawsuit the board approved Tuesday asks for that money in return that was not given each year.

If successful, it would mean an additional $327 per Louisiana public school student, or about 200 million statewide for the 2012-2013 school year.

"The 2.75 percent annually means almost $3 million. So, if you took that back several years, at $3 million a year, it could mean a windfall for Calcasieu Parish," said Bruchhaus.

The downside for school districts is that even if they are victorious, the Legislature would have to appropriate the judgment, meaning local districts may not see the money.

"We do realize that would come from the state, who has their own funding issues and financial issues, but we felt like we needed to put our name in the hat to at least stake our claim, should something be given out," said Bruchhaus.

He says joining the lawsuit wasn't an easy decision: "Our dilemma is that our legislative delegation here in Calcasieu Parish is very supportive of us, and so we really hate to present a situation where we're at odds with the state, but at the same time, we feel like we need to protect our interests with all of the other school districts when they try to do these sorts of things," said Bruchhaus.

The attorney representing Calcasieu Parish is the same for all the other school districts, so the lawsuit wording is also the same, according to Bruchhaus.

In a separate board action, members voted to begin advertising the new Superintendent position Wednesday.

Also, 101 AP Scholars were recognized and bestowed certificates for doing exceptionally well on AP exams last May. High School students may take the exams, but many were unable to attend, because they are now in college. In their absence, parents received the award for them.

Superintendent Wayne Savoy says the teachers teaching AP courses should be commended as well. There are now 60 teachers who teach AP courses in Calcasieu Parish schools.

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