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Local School Board To Vote On New Funding Formula

The state school board was set to vote yesterday on a new funding formula for Orleans Parish schools. But at the last minute, it shifted that decision to the local school board, OPSB.

There's been fierce debate over how to distribute school funds. A new state law requires New Orleans' RSD and OPSB to develop one unified formula. Right now, each has its own. They differ in how they fund students with disabilities and gifted and talented.

The city's open enrollment schools are pit against its few selective admissions charters. Those selective schools serve fewer special education students and stand to lose money for gifted. Four have threatened to sue: Audubon Charter, Ben Franklin High School, Lake Forest Charter and Lusher Charter.

That may be why Superintendent John White pushed the decision to the local school board.

A standing-room only crowd made public comments. James Brown is a lawyer for Lake Forest and Lusher Charter Schools. "Is there enough money for special needs funding?" he asked. "No. Is there enough money for education funding generally? No. But the answer to that is not to go inside a single parish and take money from some schools to give it to others."

But the majority spoke in favor of more resources for students with disabilities, like former public school parent Claudia Barker. "We're a village," she said. "And when the village has finite resources, the right thing to do is to allocate them equitably and according to need."

While the state punted on total funding, it did approve the categories of students who can get extra money: those with disabilities and gifted, but also overage students and English Language Learners.

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