OPSB Votes to Move Forward with 2019 Legislative Priorities
March 21, 2019
NEW ORLEANS – (March 21, 2019)– The administration for the Orleans Parish School Board (OPSB) has proposed ten priorities for the upcoming 2019 legislative session which was unanimously passed during the Thursday evening School Board meeting on March 21.
These priorities, if realized, directly advance the vision and goals of the district to provide a high-quality education for every student. Specifically, the priorities call for new state resources for students, schools and teachers, including more per pupil funding, pay raises for teachers and more state resources going to Pre-K and high need students.
Notably, the tenth priority creates a sustainable funding stream of approximately $10 million dollars annually to support academic progress in New Orleans and prioritizes classroom needs by using existing, higher than projected OPSB sales tax revenue currently restricted by the legislature to facility preservation.
“To better educate our young people, the board’s 2019 legislative agenda calls on the state to provide more new resources and more flexibility when it comes to using existing OPSB funding,” said Superintendent Dr. Henderson Lewis Jr. During the school board meeting Dr. Lewis stressed the importance of moving forward with the legislative agenda as it stands: “Doing nothing means preventing all important dollars from getting to where they are needed most. We can’t sit on the side lines. The children of New Orleans are counting on us to lead,” said Dr. Lewis.
Because facilities remain a great need, this proposal also ensures that 100 percent of the school facilities property tax voters approved in 2014 still goes to preservation. However, the district’s proposal corrects a funding trend that has resulted in double-digit increases in per pupil funding for facilities and less than a one percent increase in per pupil classroom funding, when accounting for inflation. The district’s proposal is about bringing more balance, prioritizing ~$10 million for classroom learning with ~$4.5 million immediately going to schools as a per pupil payment of $100 per student.
“The OPSB must make tough choices to balance many priorities and equitably dedicate very limited resources where they are needed most,” said Board President John A. Brown Sr. “This is a very difficult task because the needs of our district are significant. I commend Superintendent Lewis for his efforts.”
In addition, for years, the OPSB, its partners in the school community and other stakeholders have sought to create sustainable and strategic ways to increase supports for students with special needs and to efficiently fund citywide priorities. This proposal would go a long way towards achieving those prioritized goals with ~$2 – $2.5 million going towards programming for high cost/high need students and ~$3 million for urgent system-wide needs like teacher recruitment.
“As a longtime school leader, I have watched schools come under increasing pressure as funding in recent years has not kept pace with inflation. I applaud Dr. Lewis for finding additional funds that can be used to support academic priorities. The system has many needs, but as we continue to raise standards across the state we need to make sure that schools receive the resources needed to meet these aspirations. Dr. Lewis realizes this and is taking concrete steps to make this happen,” said FirstLine Schools CEO Jay Altman.
“Using the board’s vision and goals as a guide, for the first time in years, the district is pursuing a board aligned, proactive, student focused legislative agenda,” said Legal and Legislative Affairs Committee Chairman Ethan Ashley. “I want to thank Dr. Lewis and his team for their hard work. I look forward to advocating for this agenda during the legislative session.”
The Louisiana Legislative session begins on April 8, 2019.