The Lafourche Parish School Board voted 13-1 Wednesday night to cut $6 million from the district’s budget for next year.
The cuts include bus driver and vacant positions but not teachers.
Raymond Toups was the only board member to vote against the cut. Brooke Huddleston was absent from the meeting.
Toups said he voted against the measure because he didn’t feel the board had looked deep enough into alternative options, such as reducing the size of the School Board.
“It’s my opinion that the board has not explored the opportunities of revenues in opposition to cuts, and specifically the board reduction in numbers could go a long way to restore the credibility of the board with the public,” Toups said after the meeting.
Toups also agreed with James Shorter, the district's pupil appraisal manager, who addressed the board in opposition of cuts of district staff members who help children in the parish.
For a $375,000 in savings, two speech therapist assistants, a music therapist, an audiologist, an adapted physical education teacher and the special education director will be cut.
The cuts also leave multiple positions in the district’s staff and administration unfilled after being vacated for retirements and shrink the district’s school bus force by 20 percent. Twenty eight of the 135 bus drivers will be laid off at the end of the school year, which saves the district $1.5 million.
Board member Ray Bernard requested at the meeting that displaced drivers be considered first if positions open up in the future.
The cuts were recommended by schools Superintendent Jo Ann Matthews at January’s finance committee meeting. The committee accepted Matthews’ recommendation at last month’s meeting, with the exception of the reduction in pay for the 180-day contract employees.
Board member Marian Fertitta said the board had to make the cuts that would have the least effect on the students, starting with the bus drivers and making their way down.
“We’re just hoping that down the line maybe the taxes will improve,” Fertitta said.
The cuts come after the district experienced a drop in revenues from sales and property taxes.
-- Staff Writer Holly Duchmann can be reached at 857-2205 or email@example.com. Follow her on Twitter @holly_evamarie.