Charter schools to maintain state funding

Charter schools to maintain state funding

LAKE CHARLES, LA (KPLC) - After a more than two year legal battle, Louisiana's charter schools can breathe a sigh of relief.

In a five-to-two vote on Tuesday, the Louisiana Supreme Court ruled state funding for charter schools is constitutional.

Gene Thibodeaux, president of the Lake Charles Charter School Foundation, said the future is bright for the charter schools in Southwest Louisiana.

"It's a great victory for school and parental choice," Thibodeaux said. "And it's a great victory for the expansion of educational opportunities in our area."

Thibodeaux said given the expanding population of Calcasieu Parish, this ruling will help schools that are over capacity.

"We can relieve the overcrowdedness of our schools without imposing taxes on the people," Thibodeaux said. "We can build our schools using tax-exempt bonds or private funding."

However, not everyone is on board with the State Supreme Courts decision.

On Tuesday, the president of the Louisiana Association of Educators,  Debbie Meaux, released a statement responding to the ruling.

"I speak for the dedicated school employees of the Louisiana Association of Educators when I say I'm disappointed in the court's decision," Meaux said. "Throughout this whole process, I've heard the other side argue that this is just about money - and they're right - it is about money. Money that could be used to upgrade technology in all of our schools. Money that could be used to fund a teacher's aide for every class so that all students can get one-on-one attention in the classroom. Money that could be used to fund art and music programs that have been cut. So yes, it is most definitely about money - the money so desperately needed to fund the schools where a majority of our children learn. This ruling only solidifies the division of schools into separate systems, creating greater inequities for our students."

Thibodeaux said the money argument isn't valid in this case.

"The idea that they need the money is not a sound argument," Thibodeaux said. "Why do you budget for students that you don't have? And why do we have to do more with less? Traditional public schools can ask for additional taxpayer money to build their schools, we don't."

"We live within our means."

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