','auto');ga('set','forceSSL',true);ga('set', 'anonymizeIp', true);ga('send','pageview');
A vote for would
Allow the Education Excellence Fund to finance three more schools and public TV.
The Education Excellence Fund is a component of the Millennium Trust created in 1999 with a specific purpose to support excellence in educational practice. The Louisiana Department of Education is responsible for providing the appropriations and oversight of the Fund. Money in the Fund can be distributed only to elementary and secondary schools and special schools that include educational programs for instructional enhancement including early childhood programs for at-risk children, remedial instruction, and assistance to children who fail to achieve the required scores on tests for advancement to a succeeding grade, or other approved programs.
Last year the Fund allocated $15.6 million for education. The vast majority ($15.1 million) was appropriated to 153 local schools and school systems and 43 non public schools. In addition, $75,000 plus the average per pupil amount was paid to specific public schools that are not part of a local school system but have been authorized by the Legislature. These distributions were made to the Louisiana School for the Deaf and Visually Impaired ($153,646), the Louisiana Special Education Center ($75,648), the Louisiana School for Math, Science and the Arts ($81,458), and the New Orleans Center for the Creative Arts ($79,219). Each recipient is required to submit an annual plan to the Department of Education that outlines performance expectations and how they will spend the money.
The amendment would add appropriations to one legislatively approved special school, Thrive Academy, and two laboratory schools operated by colleges — the Louisiana State University Laboratory School and the Southern University Laboratory school. Each school would receive the average per pupil amount the Fund pays to other public schools and Thrive would receive an additional $75,000 as a state school. The Louisiana Educational Television Authority (LETA), which is not a school but is a state agency providing statewide educational programming through Louisiana Public Broadcasting, would receive $75,000 annually as part of the proposed changes. The amendment also performs housekeeping by removing an outdated provision of the Constitution that is no longer in force.
The Education Excellence Fund serves an important purpose and benefits the children at the schools it sponsors. The amendment adds three great schools that should have been a part of the original language. The lab schools’ omission was simply an oversight and the Thrive Academy was not in existence when the fund was created. These schools are worthy public institutions that serve students just as the other public schools that are already eligible for EEF support. The Louisiana Educational Television Authority, through LPB, provides programs of unmatched quality and access to many children across the state, particularly underserved children under six years of age. LETA already is included in the state’s special schools budget category under the Louisiana Department of Education.
This amendment would add yet more needless detail to Louisiana’s already cluttered Constitution. Many other special interests would like new revenue sources or financial protection by being included among the high-status beneficiaries of funds established in the Constitution. The lab schools have other sources of income, including substantial funding from the state Minimum Foundation Program and tuition, which is already aided by subsidies. The amendment is a good example of using the Constitution for minutia instead of for fundamental law. We are basically calling upon voters to perform the Legislature’s role of making appropriations by constitutionally allocating a few hundred thousand dollars of state money in a new direction. The better way would be to propose a different constitutional amendment that would let the Legislature or the state board of education allocate the funds in a manner most likely to support excellence in education.
Legal Citation: Act 445 (House Bill 62 by Representative Steve Carter) of the 2019 Regular Session, amending Article VII, Section 10.8(C)(3)(b), (c), and (g) and repealing Article VII, Section 10.8(C)(3)(d)
The Public Affairs Research Council of Louisiana (PAR) is an independent voice, offering solutions to public issues in Louisiana through accurate, objective research and focusing public attention on those solutions. PAR is a private, nonprofit research organization founded in 1950 and supported by membership contributions, foundation and corporate grants and special events.
For more information, media interviews or public presentation requests regarding this constitutional amendment guide, please contact PAR President Robert Travis Scott at RobertScott@parlouisiana.org.