The board of directors at Sci High learned on Thursday of $64,206 now owed to the Orleans Parish School Board due to an overpayment in per-pupil funding.
Like many New Orleans public schools, Sci High will see a funding loss of $181 per student after projections of the number of students in Orleans Parish were underestimated by 1,257, according to Claudia Kent, the school’s finance manager.
An annual count of students conducted in October and February of each school year determines the amount of funds, per student, schools will receive. Per-pupil state allocations to schools in all of Louisiana’s 64 parishes are based on what is known as the Minimum Foundation Program.
Kent said that the number of students using vouchers to attend private schools in Orleans Parish was underestimated by 180 students, and coupled with higher than expected revenue collection fees, this also contributed to the drop in per-pupil funding.
She said because the debt is over $10,000, it will be paid out over four months.
A discussion of students moving between schools mid-year inevitably followed this financial news, as once a student is counted in October, mfp funding does not follow the child to a new school.
“We’ve accepted students a week before testing, and seniors who were not going to graduate,” said Co-Principal Chana Benenson. “We accept until we can no longer accommodate, but we’re filling up earlier and earlier now.”
Board member John Brown worried about Sci High feeling obligated to take in students who have been forced out elsewhere.
“I don’t know if RSD etc. are monitoring to make sure schools aren’t putting kids out and hoping schools like us take them in,” Brown said. “There are schools who are abusing that.”
Additional financial cuts were announced by Co-Principal Claire Jecklin when she detailed the loss of all OPSB funds for summer school. She said leadership is trying to find a creative way to continue offering some courses.
The next board of director’s meeting is scheduled for May 16.