VOTER’S GUIDE, 2018 FALL ELECTION, BATON ROUGE
4. The EBR school board expects a budget deficit of $23 million for the 2018-2019 school year. The board has decided to tap almost half of its reserves to fill in the gap, along with making cuts to materials, supplies, travel, jobs, and holding off on transportation and technology purchases. In your opinion, what is the best way (or ways) to balance the school boards budget?
The only way to balance the budget in the years ahead is to change the state laws that privilege corporate charter schools, which siphon funds out of the traditional public school system but do not create a commensurate reduction in expenses. This diversion of funds is destabilizing our public school system and threatens to erode the very premise of public education.
The East Baton Rouge Parish School System has been hit particularly hard because the laws and policies enacted at the state level encourage charter school companies to target large urban districts that serve a high percentage of students living in poverty. (Approximately 82% of students enrolled in East Baton Rouge Parish public schools qualify for free and reduced lunch.)
The $23 million deficit EBRPSS projects for the 2018-19 school year is just $5.4 million more than the additional $17.6 million that will be lost to charter schools for 2018-19. And it’s important to note that this $17.6 million is only the increase to revenue lost to charter schools. For the 2018-19 school year, the East Baton Rouge Parish School System is projected to lose $113 million dollars in total to charter schools.
This is unsustainable. If we want to fulfill our responsibility to provide a quality education to all children regardless of race, socioeconomic background, or ability, we must protect our traditional public school system. The laws enacted at the state level that privilege corporate charter schools must be changed.