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LAE Continues to Fight Misdirection of Public School Funds

State and local governments are limited in their ability to fund public schools by both financial resources and other priorities. For that reason, when the Louisiana Constitution was adopted, the people required the state - in combination with parish and city school boards - to provide a minimum level of funding for public schools. Each year, the Minimum Foundation Program (MFP) determines the minimum funding required. To ensure that MFP funds are spent appropriately, the constitution requires that all of the money appropriated by the legislature for the MFP each year be “equitably allocated to parish and city school systems.” Keep in mind that when the constitution was adopted, the concept of “charter schools” was unknown.

In recent years, the legislature has attempted to use the MFP program to advance various political agendas by allocating MFP funds to schools that are not “parish and city school systems.” The Louisiana Supreme Court halted the practice of funding private school vouchers through the MFP back in 2013; this case challenges whether new Type 2 charter schools approved by BESE can be funded through the MFP program.

Simply stated, because new Type 2 charter schools are not parish or city school systems they cannot be constitutionally funded through the MFP program.

Because the MFP formula takes local tax revenue into account, the use of MFP funds to pay for new Type 2 charter schools has had an overwhelming and devastating financial impact on city and parish school systems around the state. New Type 2 charter schools siphon state and local tax dollars from the budgets of parish and city school systems. As a result, local school systems located in the same districts as these charter schools have experienced budget crises that have led to cuts in staff and services. This result makes it virtually impossible for those school systems to provide every child access to a 21st-century education.

It is critical that all public schools in Louisiana be adequately funded. Just as the legislature found the money to fund private school vouchers outside of the MFP, it must also find a way to fund new Type 2 charter schools outside of the MFP. The overwhelming majority of students attending school in Louisiana learn in public school classrooms operated by elected parish and city school boards, and those students are entitled to receive the funding the constitution promises.

One of LAE’s top priorities is ensuring that every student has the opportunity to meet his/her potential. Attendance at a great public school furthers that goal, and we call upon the legislature to help achieve this by funding all public schools according to the dictates of the constitution.

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