By Jessica Williams, The Lens staff writer |

The Orleans Parish School Board approved a $45 million budget for its six direct-run schools, and another $65 million for 11 charter schools, after a public hearing on Thursday.

General fund expenses for the direct-run schools decreased by 9 percent from last year’s budget. Orleans Parish School Board administrators said that expenses were higher last year because the board purchased its Gen. De Gaulle office building during that time.

The public hearing was delayed for an hour because not enough members had showed up to comprise a quorum.

The four audience members who were present for the hearing asked varied questions, one being whether the board projected available revenues based on the current millage rate or a new one. The question was provoked by the board’s recent public notices advertising meetings to consider raising the tax rate. The board said that the 2012 budget was calculated using the current rate.

Board members raised concerns of their own before voting to approve the budget. Lourdes Moran, the board’s president, questioned the board’s decision to sign off on independently run charter school boards’ school budgets, given that the board does not take an active role in planning those budgets:

“We are voting on this based on the information they’ve provided, but that doesn’t necessarily mean we’ve looked into it,” Moran said. The board was advised that state law approves the process. Moran said, “I agree, but I don’t have to wave my wand on it. I don’t want to approve their budgets.”

The board then agreed to change the wording of its approval to include the disclaimer that while the board is approving both the OPSB’s overall budget, individual charter school boards are in charge of their own budgets.

To view a summary of the budget, click here.

Jessica Williams

Jessica Williams stays on top of the city's loosely organized collection of public schools, with a special emphasis on charter schools. In 2011 she was recognized by the Press Club of New Orleans for her...