Facing a looming general fund shortfall that could run as high as $4 million, the committee did vote to trim one faculty position at each of the parish’s 16 schools as part of an effort to cut expenses.
In staff meetings with the three high school principals, they said they could not maintain block scheduling if they had to give up more than one teacher.
The trimming of 16 teachers in the 2011-12 school session is projected to save an estimated $840,000.
Superintendent Richard Lavergne and CFO Emile Soulier III told board members that current information indicates there will be no growth in revenue for the school system in the immediate future while expenditures will be rising for employee retirement, group health benefits, fuel for transportation, utilities and food services.
They pointed out that salaries and benefits account for nearly 90 percent of the general fund budget.
Board member Floyd Knott recalled that block scheduling was first implemented at Breaux Bridge High in 1999-2000 and then expanded to Cecilia and St. Martinville the following year.
“I estimate we now have about five more personnel at each school than we did before block scheduling,” he said.
And several years ago, when the financial situation was much stronger, the board approved funds to add one additional teacher at each of the parish’s schools.
A survey of the high school faculties showed a strong preference by teachers for block scheduling. The three principals also support the format.
CHS principal Anthony Polotzola, who said that he has filled in as a classroom teacher when needed, pointed out that schools in the Cecilia area have a higher student count compared to Breaux Bridge Elementary and Breaux Bridge Jr. High as well as Stephensville Elementary, a pre-K to grade 8 school with an enrollment of less than 160 that has three more faculty members than the formula calls for.
“And high schools don’t get any Title I funds for extra personnel like the elementary schools do,” he added.
Terry Martin, athletic director and head football coach at CHS, said athletic programs at all three local schools would be adversely affected if classes reverted to a seven period day.
When some board members questioned why teachers slots were being singled out for possible cuts, Supt. Lavergne said that was not the case. “My job is to come in with a (balanced) budget, and I will,” he said. “There will be cuts in many areas, and some won’t be very popular. The board will have to decide which ones to implement.”
The block schedule decision needed to be made this month because schools begin drawing up student schedules for 2011-12 in February.
Board members Richard Potier and Wanda Babin offered a motion to cut two teachers at the high schools and junior highs, and one at each of the other schools, but after some discussion agreed to withdraw the proposal.
The trimming of one teacher at each school was unanimously approved.