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Orleans Parish School Board Considers Controversial Funding Formula

The Orleans Parish School Board considered a controversial new funding formula last night.

The school board meeting was unusually packed with students, parents, teachers and charter CEOs. Many wore lime green T-shirts that said: families and schools for fair funding. To them "fair" means new system that gives schools more money for students with disabilities, English Language Learners, and students who are overage or several years behind. But it gives less for gifted and talented students.

Nine-year-old Matthew Guyton and his father Morgan spoke in support of the plan. "I have some challenges with writing," Matthew said. "And I have teachers that help me get better with my writing. And there are some people other than me out there that still are smart but have problems with things."

"We have some great teachers at Encore Academy that are helping my son," Morgan said. "But I will say that what we've experienced is that they are overextended and they need more staffing to be able to adequately address my son's needs. We look forward to your funding Encore Academy adequately."

Only one speaker objected in an hour-plus of comments. James Brown is the lawyer for Lusher and Lake Forest charter schools, which stand to lose money and have threatened to sue if the formula gets passed.

"I don't want to sue you guys," Brown said. "It's the last thing I want to do. Give us more time to sit down and see if we can work these problems out in a way that resolves the matter consensually and avoids what is going to be lengthy, expensive, divisive federal court litigation."

In the end, the board claimed it couldn't actually vote on the formula. But it could - and did - grant Superintendent Henderson Lewis Jr. the authority to allocate funds. He supports the new formula.

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