Teachers union "outraged" over funding switch
BATON ROUGE – The president of Louisiana’s teachers union said the organization is “outraged” over the redirection of $147 million to shore up higher education cuts.
“School districts around the state have based their budgets on the promise of this funding,” said President Steve Monaghan of the Louisiana Federation of Teachers. “This action will cause real pain and loss in every school district in Louisiana.”
Monaghan said district superintendents were told Thursday by Govenor Bobby Jindal's office that they would not get the money, which was allocated by Congress to preserve jobs in elementary and secondary schools. Instead, Jindal wants to use the money to supplement funding for state colleges and universities and fill in an expected budget gap next year.
In order to do that and still meet federal guidelines to get the funding, the administration would have to put the federal money into the state’s funding formula for spending, but then remove an equal amount of general fund money to deal with the budget shortfall.
State lawmakers will have to approve the plan before it can go into effect.
Monaghan said teachers on all levels have suffered during the cuts and freezes over the past two years, because retirement and insurance costs have risen significantly along with schools’ operating costs.
“The governor should be making sure that there is enough money to fund education appropriately at all levels,” Monaghan said. “Instead, he is forcing us to fight over crumbs from an ever-shrinking pie.”