- Associated Press - Friday, June 27, 2014

LAFAYETTE, La. (AP) - The Lafayette Parish School Board quickly dismissed three new budget proposals by Superintendent Pat Cooper, then slowly chipped away at its looming $23.5 million budget shortfall for the next fiscal year.

The Advertiser reports (http://bit.ly/1sK39F9 ) nearly $800,000 in expenses were cut for a host of items, including marketing, travel to conferences and workshops, hospitality, playground maintenance, tree maintenance and more.

The nearly six-hour meeting ended around 11:30 p.m. Thursday. The board still had not decided on the future of several types of classroom positions, including instructional strategists, data analysts, counselors and more. Those decisions will come at a future meeting. Board member Mark Cockerham said that because of the importance of those positions and other possible program cuts, he wanted the board to be rested before tackling those items.

Cooper and other officials opposed most of the cuts, saying they would trickle down to children if teachers are unable to receive regular training and if certain tasks aren’t done, such as repairs to damaged playgrounds.

“You’re going to put our kids at risk,” Cooper said.

In addition, school officials argued that some of the eliminated positions were responsible for building community partnerships and raising funds.

However, some board members said the cuts were designed to save teaching slots.

“My intent is to put money back into this budget for teacher positions being cut by staff in the central office,” board member Greg Awbrey said.

Throughout the night, the board’s voting pattern rarely changed. On almost every issue, six members voted to make cuts.

The board eliminated all funding for travel to conferences and workshops and essentially shut down the district’s community collaborations and partnerships department, keeping only a receptionist and webmaster. Cooper indicated he would try to restore funding for that department later.

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Information from: The Advertiser, http://www.theadvertiser.com

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