Thursday, November 11, 2010

Outrage as Jindal redirects school funds

A decision by the Jindal administration to redirect $147 million in federal education funds is the latest outrageous example of failure to make reasonable, responsible choices on behalf of the people of the state, Louisiana Federation of Teachers President Steve Monaghan said today.

On Thursday, district school superintendents were notified that they will not receive money allocated by the U.S. Congress in order to preserve the jobs of teachers and school employees in elementary and secondary schools. Instead, according to Jindal’s commissioner of administration, some of the money will be used to shore up funding for state colleges and universities, and some saved to plug next year’s anticipated budget hole.

“School districts around the state have based their budgets on the promise of this funding,” Monaghan said. “This action will cause real pain and loss in every school district in Louisiana.”

When Congress passed the EduJobs act, guidelines required states to spend the funds on salaries and benefits for teachers, school administrators, and other essential staff. The money was to be distributed to school districts according to the Minimum Foundation Program formula, which allocates state education funds.

“It is already shameful that we were forced to rely on Congress to save the jobs of critical teachers and school employees,” said Monaghan. “But for the governor to pull the rug out from under our schools at this late date is unbelievable.

By diverting funds dedicated to elementary and secondary education to colleges and universities, Monaghan said, the governor is unfairly pitting education communities against each other.

“The governor should be making sure that there is enough money to fund education appropriately at all levels,” Monaghan said. “Instead, he is forcing us to fight over crumbs from an ever-shrinking pie.”

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