Friday, June 10, 2011

Coalition Member's letter to Senate Finance

Special Update (June 17): House Bill 1, the state budget bill is now going to the full Senate and then back to the full House for final votes. The Coalition for Louisiana Public Education is requesting that all educators contact their Senators and then their Representatives and ask that the special appropriations for: (1) 8.5 million dollars for building insurance for the Recovery District in New Orleans be deleted and instead be used to help all public school systems and (2) that the 11 million dollars for voucher programs in New Orleans be removed and instead be used to help fund all public school systems. These special appropriations cannot be justified. They are a blatant move to grant extra support to favored schools at the expense of regular public schools that have suffered from 3 years of funding freezes as mandated costs have increased tremendously.

The following is a reprint of a letter to the Senate Finance Committee by Brett Bonnin, school board member for the Orleans Parish School Board. Mr Bonnin is expressing the position of the Coalition for Louisiana Public Education. Readers of this blog are urged to communicate similar concerns to their Senators.

To Senate Finance,

NO MONEY FOR K12, BUT EXTRA $18.6 MILLION FOR FAILED PRIVATE VOUCHERS AND INSURANCE EARMARKS?

While everyone proclaims K12 education to be a priority, the State has frozen what is supposed to be an automatic 2.75% MFP increase for K12 education for THREE YEARS IN A ROW saying there is no money. However, when it comes to funding private education vouchers and extra money for the Recovery school district, some believe that the State has an extra $18.6 million dollars to give away this year alone. These policies hurt public DIRECT RUN and CHARTER schools!

In the last three years of frozen MFP, probably close to $50 million dollars has gone to to vouchers and EXTRA insurance proceeds to just one school district, the New Orleans Recovery School District. The Orleans Parish School Board has lots of destroyed and land banked properties from Katrina, but the State is not giving it any extra money to help with their insurance costs. Instead, the MFP has been frozen for three years and they have had to lay off employees like many other districts across the State. Our public direct run and charters are hurting and it keeps getting worse with more and more unfunded mandates - State has shifted private school busing, national board certified teacher stipends, and increases in retirement costs to districts.

If funding is so tight that the all the school districts in the State must suffer three years of frozen MFP increases, then we should not be dolling out money for vouchers which even Leslie Jacobs says are not working - see her article below which you can find at http://educatenow.net/2010/06/25/school-voucher-program-rsd-schools-outperform-voucher-program/

Please tune in - Many Coalition leaders should be on WWL Channel 4 in New Orleans tonight at 5pm raising further concern!

Brett A. Bonin's (Member of Coalition for Louisiana Public Education)
Vice President
LOUISIANA SCHOOL BOARD ASSOCIATION

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