- Associated Press - Thursday, September 18, 2014

LAFAYETTE, La. (AP) - Lafayette Parish Superintendent Pat Cooper will submit the board-approved 2014-15 budget to the state by the end of the week.

However, Cooper tells The Advertiser (https://bit.ly/XnwqH5 ) the submission will include a cover letter from him and documents about his objections to the budget.

“At that point in time (State Superintendent John White) and his staff will look at my documentation of how I think the board has not followed Act One, and the discrimination piece, and then at some point they will give us a decision on whether they will reject the budget or accept it,” Cooper said.

The board approved the nearly $430 million budget on Monday. To help close a $20 million deficit, the board suggested several cuts to personnel and programs. Cooper has voiced his opposition to the budget, saying the board has violated Act One by attempting to dictate details on personnel and positions. The superintendent also has raised concerns that the budget cuts would unfairly take away resources from the district’s poorest and lowest-performing schools.

Cooper had said he wouldn’t turn in the budget to the Louisiana Department of Education by the Sept. 30 deadline. But he said he changed his mind after considering the possible statewide implications, and after talking to White about the matter.

“This needs to be a statewide issue. This doesn’t need to be a Lafayette Parish issue,” Cooper said. “Everybody is supposed to be living under Act One….When I talked to the Department of Education and John White, they basically said to bring it to them and have their folks look at it and they will make a determination. It will then be something that everybody in the state would understand is coming from the Department of Education, not just Lafayette Parish.”

In the meantime, Cooper said the district will continue to operate under the 2013-14 budget. A state statute lets the district use 50 percent of the money from last year into the current fiscal year, which started on July 1. Cooper said he thinks the district will be able to continue normal operations under the old budget.

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

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