Concordia Parish School Board joining statewide lawsuit

Published 12:12 am Friday, December 13, 2013

VIDALIA — The Concordia Parish School Board voted Thursday to join at least 19 other parish school boards across the state in a $200 million lawsuit against the State of Louisiana.

Superintendent Paul Nelson told the board at its Thursday meeting that the lawsuit, originally filed by the St. John the Baptist Parish School Board, challenges the state’s per-pupil school aid formula.

The lawsuit came after a Louisiana Supreme Court ruling this year struck down how the state’s expanded school voucher program was funded.

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The court also threw out the state’s education payment plan, called Minimum Foundation Program, saying it had been approved illegally.

The school boards are seeking a 2.75 percent “growth factor” in the lawsuit, which was included in previous Minimum Foundation Programs, Nelson said.

That could mean approximately $370,000 more a year for the district, Nelson said, and a total of $200 million statewide.

According to the Louisiana Department of Education, under the MFP, the state adopts a formula every year to equitably allocate funding for education to school districts. Funding through this program is provided to school districts as a block grant. After satisfying all mandated requirements, school districts have the flexibility to spend the funding to meet the needs of their schools and students.

MFP combines local and state funding through a formula set by the state Board of Elementary and Secondary Education, which is approved by the Legislature.

Nelson said the Louisiana School Boards Association is encouraging all 69 districts in the state to join the lawsuit.

Attorneys for the lawsuit, Nelson said, are gathering resolutions from school boards across the state joining the lawsuit in an effort to make it a class-action lawsuit.

Joining the lawsuit will not cost the school district anything unless the attorneys are able to recover funding, Nelson said.