School Board cuts 21 positions, citing federal funding shortfall

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The Orleans Parish School Board is planning to cut 21 positions for the coming  school year, officials announced Thursday.

The cuts, which will include teachers, social workers, clerical assistants, and other positions, are largely due to nearly $2 million in federal funding reductions, namely from Title I and special-education reimbursements.

Two teachers will lose their jobs due to the upcoming consolidation of the Architecture, Design, and Engineering Preparatory High School with McDonogh 35.

A Mary McLeod Bethune Elementary School teacher will also lose out because of overstaffing in the physical education department. Still two others, a Talented in Visual Arts faculty member from Bethune and a special education teacher from Benjamin Franklin Elementary School, will lose their jobs due to lack of students interested in, or eligible for, the services they provide.

At the board’s Thursday committee meeting, member Ira Thomas took issue with eliminating so many instructional, rather than administrative, positions. “That’s where we are taking these hits, where we need the help the most,” Thomas said.

Recently instated Superintendent Stan Smith said that the specific positions were tied to the decrease in federal funds. Director of Human Resources Armand Devezin said that they were able to move some employees to other positions that were vacant. In total, four of the original 25 to be laid off will be offered other positions.

In addition to the cuts, board members also announced at the meeting that language for the controversial disadvantaged-business policy has been finalized. The policy allows the board to give special consideration to firms run by minorities and women. A vote on the policy language can be expected at the board’s next meeting, members said.

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