School board announces staff layoffs

Roughly 18 school paraprofessionals will be laid off before the 2012-13 school year begins. Another 40 full-time positions within the school system will be eliminated through attrition.

Because of a cut in federal Title I funds, the paraprofessionals will have to be cut. However, Superintendent Donald Aguillard explained that all paraprofessionals in the parish would be pooled and the 18 with the least experience would be cut, regardless of what funds they are paid with. After that, the aides will be redistributed, he said.

As for the 40 positions being eliminated through attrition, they cut across a wide swath of areas in the school system including:

—26 regular education teachers

—5 special education teachers

—1 teacher at the alternative school

—1 assistant principal due to declining enrollment

—an administrator in the Office of Special Services

—1 school psychologist

—2 speech therapists

—2 paraprofessional positions vacant during 2011-12 school year that will not be filled

—a clerical position in the transportation department

Two temporary workers, in the warehouse and business department, also will not be replaced. The attrition positions will save the school system $2.47 million annually.

Each Title I position cost the school system between $18,000-$20,000 plus about 30 percent in benefits, Aguillard said. So, if each aide made $20,000, plus benefits, the school system will see a savings of $468,000.

Other highlights from the general fund budget workshop held Tuesday included:

—Reduction of the sabbatical budget by $100,000. Sabbaticals are now taken at the discretion of the superintendent under state law and will only be allowed for catastrophic illness.

—Funding of the annual step at $500,000.

—Decrease of Minimum Foundation Program funding of $2.56 million.

—Increase in property insurance premium of $50,000.

—Increase in health insurance premium of $750,000. The remaining $250,000 of the $1 million the board approved to absorb the premium increase for employees was taken from other funds.

—Decrease in the amount transferred from the general fund to the technology fund by $400,000 and the textbook budget by $300,000.

—Saved the $22.50 student supply and fee budget after a motion by Board Member Anthony Streva of Morgan City to amend the proposed reduction to $17.50. All board members approved the renewal at $22.50.

These and several other moves were made in an attempt to balance a budget hit hard by a loss of MFP money because of new state initiatives requiring the parish to send money to charter schools as well as a funding formula that indicates St. Mary receives a large enough local share of tax money that its state funds can be decreased.

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