Orleans Parish School Board Presents Transformative Budget and Multi-Year Plan for Sustainability
June 15, 2017
Budget Puts OPSB On Track To Pay Down Debt By 2021 And Ensure Orleans Parish Direct-Run Schools Receive Equitable Levels Of Funding Relative To Charter Schools.
New Orleans – (June 15, 2017) – At the June Orleans Parish School Board (OPSB) Board Business Meeting on Thursday June 15 OPSB Superintendent Dr. Henderson Lewis, Jr. and his staff presented the 2018 fiscal year budget as part of a multi-year plan to fund schools fairly and pay off all long-term OPSB debt in short order. The plan outlines preparations for the upcoming unification of the public school system. By July 1, 2018 all public schools under the Recovery School District (RSD) will return to the oversight of a democratically elected school board and the central office at OPSB.
“We are creating a new and unique public school system for the future of New Orleans, one that serves all families and upholds high standards for all schools,” said Superintendent Lewis. “As we build this system, our responsibility is to give schools and the community confidence that we are using funds wisely and are sending as many resources as possible to schools rather than the central office.”
The school board is proud to announce that the budget is balanced and will have no operating gap. The structural deficit will be reduced from $4.9 million in FY17 to $3.3 million in FY18. Over $2 million of new revenue will go to direct-run schools in FY18.
Chief among the budget’s highlights is the percentage of funds that go directly to students. Historically, the OPSB central office has been funded in part by dollars intended for schools, as is the case with traditional school districts across the nation. While state law ensured that charter schools received 98 percent of their funds by law, direct-run OPSB schools received materially less than this amount. Superintendent Lewis has stated he is committed to ensuring that Orleans Parish direct-run schools receive equitable levels of funding relative to charter schools in the city.
“This budget allocates funds exactly like the charter systems do, on a per pupil basis,” said Chief Operating Officer Eric Seling, noting that he was proud of his staff for their tireless efforts to make this kind of progress obtainable.
Seling went on to outline that OPSB is transforming the organization so that the majority of staff and budget are focused on the district’s five key priorities which include 1) school oversight and planning, 2) family and community engagement, 3) equity and student support, 4) facilities planning and preservation and 5) finance and administration.
John A. Brown, Sr., OPSB Board President, expresses his confidence in the future of OPSB.
“From the very beginning of his tenure as superintendent, Dr. Lewis has been unwavering in his commitment to have all schools, charter and network, funded fully and equitably. The OPSB has been and continues to be supportive of those efforts to provide that maximum resources are directed to schools, classrooms, and students. As Board president, I am confident that the district is preparing efficiently and effectively to provide for a smooth reunification of our schools by July 2018.”
Kenneth Ducote, Executive Director of the Greater New Orleans Collaborative of Charter Schools, stood to praise the budget at the meeting.
“The budget that was presented tonight is a planning and policy document, which is what it should be, and I commend the staff for putting it together,” said Ducote.
Also noted during the property committee, the start of construction for the new Edna Karr High School campus cannot begin until Mississippi River levels decrease due to safety regulations associated with pile driving.
OPSB currently oversees 32 schools, including 25 charter schools, six network schools and one educational program for students in secure care facilities.