Looming education cuts threaten public, private schools

Looming education cuts threaten public, private schools

SHREVEPORT, LA (KSLA) - The clock is ticking with less than a week left in Louisiana's special legislative session, and at the moment, education is on the chopping block in a big way.

When it comes to K-12 education in Louisiana, all eyes are on House Bill 122. That includes both public and private schools. That's because it would cut $44 million from the state's department of education, effectively taking almost all of its money until June 30, the end of the fiscal year.

If the massive cuts to the department of education actually go into effect for the last four months of this budget year, payments for early childhood education could stop. And standardized testing may not take place either.

It's not just public schools that would suffer. Sister Carol Shively told us, "We'd already taken a million dollar cut from the program. That was what the legislators asked us to do."

Sister Shively is superintendent of Catholic Schools in Shreveport. She explained that the initial million dollar cut eventually jumped to $5 million in cuts in state payments to private schools in Louisiana.

Shively added, "And then out of House Bill 122 we were totally eliminated."

But Sister Carol Shively says she's confident the Louisiana Senate will put some of that money back into the education budget.

Sister Carol also knows the realities of what a worse case scenario might include saying, "We know that we'll have to make major adjustments here this last period of the year." She says that translates into cuts to some school programs.

Payments to voucher schools could also be stopped, affecting 7,000 students statewide. Private schools are reimbursed roughly $5,500 per student in the voucher program.

But Sister Carol says she has faith in the political process concluding, "I really believe that when it's done come sunset March the 9th these men and women will what's right for these children."

Sister Carol says out of her three Catholic schools in Shreveport, only one of them has voucher students enrolled. All ten of those students attend St. Joseph Catholic School. So, she says any cuts to the voucher program would not have a dramatic impact on their school system.

Copyright 2016 KSLA All rights reserved.