Lafayette school officials prepared to eliminate nearly 300 positions over budget deficit

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LAFAYETTE, Louisiana — Lafayette Parish school officials are prepared to eliminate nearly 300 instructional positions next year because of a potential budget deficit that has swelled to $23.5 million.

Officials predict that about 100 people could lose their jobs next year, including teachers, counselors, administrators and others. The remaining positions are vacant, or would be eliminated through attrition.

On Tuesday, The Advertiser reports ( ) Superintendent Pat Cooper and other district officials presented what Cooper described as a "devastating" proposal for the 2014-15 budget. The school board has said it does not want to use a portion of a nearly $70 million reserve fund, or money generated from a 2002 sales tax, to help cover the deficit.

Without those options available, Cooper said the only recourse is to cut expenditures.

"Not being able to consider either revenue source, LPSS and the community are set on a course for disaster," Cooper wrote in a budget statement. "Our children will get less, far less than they deserve. LPSS will lose great teachers and administrators. Public education is now a highly competitive business, and LPSS will no longer be in a position to compete .... Make no mistake — these cuts will be devastating for our school system."

Cooper has proposed two versions of a general fund budget, one with $272,362,457 in the general fund, the other with $271,522,776. Both reflect increases from the fiscal year 2014 general fund budget of $257,881,191.

The Lafayette Parish School Board has a special meeting Thursday to discuss and possibly vote on the budget proposals.

Information from: The Advertiser,

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