What do you see as the main job responsibilities of a school board representative and how many school board meetings have you attended in person in the last two years?

The main job responsibilities of a school board member is active, proactive representation of the voters who put that board member in office. It has to be that voters/parents children’s needs are met on a timely basis. He has to lobby legislators see that as much funding as possible met. When school functions take place and the doors are open, the board members should always be there.

 

What is the Minimum Foundation Program (MFP) and why is it important to the St. Tammany schools?

Minimum Foundation Program. It is about 2/3 of the funding for each child with the other 1/3 derived from local sales tax and ad valorum tax being the balance of each child’s funding. Funding through the program is provided to school districts as a “block grant”. After satisfying all mandated requirements, school districts have the flexibility to spend the funding to meet the needs of the schools and students The MFP funding for 2018-2019 is about 51.5% of the total general fund revenues. Our ballpark cost per student for 2018-2020 is about $10,900.00 for general fund with the state providing about $5,600.00 per student through the MFP. This money is essential to maintain the high quality of education in St. Tammany Parish.

 

The state has imposed numerous unfunded mandates on the St. Tammany school system. Discuss two of these mandates and how they affect the school-operating budget.

Employee and retiree health insurance is the largest unfunded mandate for our school system. This accounts for just under 16% of the general fund budget for 2019 or 63.5 million dollars. Other unfunded mandates:  Retirement: Teachers and school employee—This accounts for over 14 % of the general fund budget for 2019or 59 million dollars. Other unfunded mandate we are having to address: English as a second language (ESL), Alternative Programs –Project Team West, East, Believe, Special education cost in excess of federal funding and MFP extra funding. Non-Public Transportation (Transporting non-public students) Leap, technology mandates for the testing, Extended Sick Leave, Sabbaticals.

 

Tammany has an “out of district” policy that states a student must attend the public school in the district where the parent/ guardian owns a home and claims a homestead exemption or has proof of rent or lease.  There have been reported cases in which the policy has been violated.  A by-product of the policy violation is the overcrowding of some schools and under-utilization of others. Do you think anything should be done to balance the enrollment and reduce the need for more buildings? If so, what?

Implement strict guidelines to keep the student population in their designated learning population area. If a “out of district” is requested it should require absolute proof of a hard case situation with no other exception to our policy.

 

A major concern to parents and voters is the safety of our children while they are in our care at school.  By the beginning of the 2018-2019 school year, all 55 schools will have a school resource officer (SRO) funded by FEMA and the BP oil settlement.  These funds will eventually expire.  Would you favor increasing the school board tax millage to cover this cost or do you have another suggestion for coming up with the money?

I do not think we should impose raising a tax millage or increase a tax already in existence. We have plans and several options. The board and administration is strongly looking at that we plan to make known to the public in the very near future.

 

The Louisiana Industrial Ad Valorem Tax Exemption program allows school districts to reject exemptions that decrease the tax revenue available to the school board. What action, if any, should the school board take in compliance with the current law to adopt new policies and standards for industries seeking tax exemptions?  Do you think the school board should accept or reject most exemptions?

It should reject most tax exemptions.