Money crunch forces schools to cut

Published 12:00 am Sunday, February 20, 2000

VIDALIA, La. – Concordia school leaders are continuing to take a close look at everything they spend money on, from personnel to pencils.

That is because the amount of state funding and taxes from bankrupt Fruit of the Loom are still uncertain, said Superintendent Lester &uot;Pete&uot; Peterman.

To lessen the funding crunch’s impact on students, &uot;we’re looking at things that are not directly related to classrooms,&uot; Peterman said Friday.

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For example, the district is temporarily freezing its hiring of non-classroom personnel. Also, the district is cutting back on maintenance.

&uot;We’re only doing what is absolutely necessary,&uot;&160;Peterman said.

Principals have even been told to keep careful track of the office supplies that their schools use, at least until an end to the funding crisis is in sight.

A revised budget that includes such cuts will be probably be presented to the school board in April for approval, according to Tom O’Neal, director of business affairs.

Fruit of the Loom, Concordia Parish’s largest manufacturer, declared Chapter 11 bankruptcy in late December.

And last month, a spokesperson for Fruit of the Loom said the company does not yet know when or if it will pay the more than $2 million in taxes it owes Concordia Parish as a whole. That amount of includes more than $700,000 in taxes Fruit of the Loom owes the Concordia School District.

Also, Concordia schools had 26 fewer students this year than were projected — and got $558,000 less from the state as a result.

The district has made up half of that funding gap by not filling nonessential jobs this year, including the assistant superintendent’s post formerly held by Peterman.