BATON ROUGE - The East Baton Rouge Parish School System is preparing for a round of budget cuts after recently announcing it is on track to spend nearly $29 million more than the amount of revenue it is expected to generate in the next year.
Superintendent Bernard Taylor says much of that is to blame on the dozen charter schools opened in the last decade.
"We're basically now feeding on ourselves to keep up with those payments," said Taylor.
Charter schools are run by outside organizations, but funded by public education dollars. Every charter school must demonstrate success, or it will lose its charter. Taylor says for the price, the money isn't doing enough.
"There isn't a charter school that is opened here that does anything that is significantly different than what goes on in the district," he said. "This is the only scenario that I know of where we continue to open schools, but there's no new population to fill those schools."
A couple do offer different learning options, including Thrive and Career Academy. The draw to those schools is forcing Taylor and other school leaders to make up the difference.
"So long as they're funded based on a projected enrollment, we are going to be having the same conversation every year going forward," he said. "We are going to be using more and more to balance our budget and once that's gone, it's gone."
Taylor is calling on the principals of each school to have open discussions about what to keep and what to let go, but they're running out of things to cut.
Some schools have been asked to cut as much as 8 percent. The school system looked at each school with the highest rate of students eligible for free and reduced lunch. The larger the number of students who qualify for free or reduced lunch, the less they have to cut.
The school system has called for cuts for Central Office administrators, staff and food workers but would spare teachers. Taylor says the system is also looking at delaying purchases, such as new school buses.
Some board members say a new budget will likely be introduced at the next school board meeting. It is expected to go into effect July 1.