La. local schools owed $30M because of court ruling

BATON ROUGE (AP) — The state owes local school districts $30 million because the Louisiana Supreme Court threw out this year’s public school funding formula, Superintendent of Education John White said Wednesday.

Lawmakers on the Senate Education Committee also asked the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education to draw up a new proposal for next year’s 2013-14 formula because of the court decision. Lawmakers can only accept or reject the financing plans submitted by BESE; they cannot change them.

The court ruled earlier this month that Gov. Bobby Jindal and lawmakers couldn’t fund a statewide voucher program to send children to private schools through the formula for public schools. The high court also said lawmakers didn’t follow the proper process to pass the formula, declaring the entire 2012-13 financing plan null and void.

White said the ruling means the state reverts to the financing formula for the 2011-12 school year. He said that changes several state funding calculations and will require $30 million more in payments to districts.

“When you reset the clock, the state owes the districts money,” he said.

Of the total, White said $12 million involved paying local school districts back for a reduction in funding they took because of the vouchers.

Another $14.5 million, he said, was tied to a change this year that required local districts to pay for a portion of the funding for eight charter schools that whose costs previously had been paid entirely by the state.

St. Mary Parish would be owed $2.8 million if the state reverts to the 2011-12 funding formula, according to Supt. Donald Aguillard.

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