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Board approves budgets for both schools, but frets about funding delay for special ed

The board of directors who run Martin Luther King School of Science and Technology, as well as the Joseph Craig Elementary, approve budgets for the 2012-13 school year at their meeting July 19.

Discussion began with the budget for Craig, which the Friends of King School board begins operating in the coming year. Board members contributed their opinions on what chief executive officer Doris Hicks identified as the biggest issue with the budget: special-education funding.

Shawne Favre, director of finance, said the school would not receive its special- education funding until the student counts are formalized, in October at the earliest. It’s not enough for a student to show up on the first day of school, Favre noted:  “The student has to come, continue, and be counted.”

Hicks said that, prior to the board taking over, there were around 180 special-needs students enrolled at Craig. Board members complained that the school would have to hire new teachers without receiving funds to do so.

Board member Gail Armant said students have the option of leaving the school, but its charter requires the school to offer enrollment to all students who attended Craig last year.  “Maybe, because they have the option [of leaving], you could give us less than 100 percent, but not nothing,” Armant mused.

“We know that we’re going in with a large number of special needs,” said Hicks, “and that’s okay.  The problem is that we’re not getting funding.”

The board moved on to discuss the King budget, which  Favre said was similar in most respects to last year’s.

“No raises were approved for teachers,” she said, referring to a state-wide teacher pay freeze in effect across Louisiana, “so the differences in expenditure are small.”

Retirement and health benefits have not been cut, Favre and Hicks explained, though the allocations for these categories in the projected budget have been reduced. That’s because last year’s budget overstated these obligations by $600,000..

Present were Hilda Young, president; Thelma Ruth, secretary; Cora Charles, treasurer; and members George Rabb, Eartha Johnson, and Sandra Monroe, as well as Armant, Hicks, and Washington.  Also present were Lindsay Moore, King’s principal, and Craig principal Ora Wiley.

Member Kenya Rounds was absent.

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