Recovery School District’s budget shrinks as it shifts to all-charter district

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The Recovery School District’s budget is getting smaller as it gets out of the business of running schools in New Orleans.

The state-run district is planning to spend much less next year than it did five years ago. Total costs have decreased by about 57 percent, from $493 million in the 2009-10 fiscal year.

The state Board of Elementary and Secondary Education will review the RSD’s proposed $214 million budget for 2014-15 on Tuesday. Board members plan to adopt the budget in August.

The operating budget has taken the steepest dive, from $304 million in 2009-10 to just $20 million next year.

The shrinking budget isn’t surprising.

The RSD has closed and chartered New Orleans schools over the past several years. With the closure of its last direct-run schools in the city this spring, the country’s first all-charter district has cut back on school staff and central office administrators.

The per-pupil funding that went to the Recovery School District will now go to charter organizations.

The district still offers administrative support for those schools. Its budget accounts for such expenses at 65 charter schools, 58 of which are in New Orleans.

The budget also accounts for “current and future school turnaround work” at districts around the state, according to budget documents submitted to the BESE.

While the operating budget has declined sharply, the construction budget has been steady. Five years ago it was $189 million; it will be $194 million next year.

Though state officials don’t directly manage schools, they are still responsible for stabilizing and renovating their share of school buildings damaged by Hurricane Katrina, under the city’s school facilities master plan.

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