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Superintendent says progress evident in reading scores, more is needed

by Minden Press-Herald

(The Center Square) – Spotlighting growth for fourth grade reading scores, Louisiana Superintendent Cade Brumley told a legislative committee progress has been made and more is needed in K-12 education.

“We are making progress educationally in the state of Louisiana, but in a state that is long been challenged, we have a long way to go,” Brumley said Monday during the hearing of the Committee on Appropriations in the House of representatives.

The K-12 budget is nearly $4.23 billion – 57.2% of the total of $7.33 billion – in state general funds for the Minimum Foundation Program, which is the state’s funding formula. The biggest chunk of the remainder of the $7.33 billion total is federal funds at $2.72 billion (37.1%).

Fourth grade reading scores rank No. 1 nationally for growth, and 11th up from 42nd in overall proficiency for economically disadvantaged students. The overall state ranking climbed from 42 to 46, highest nationally since 2003.

Last year’s $8.22 billion included nearly $4 billion in state general funds and an all-time high of nearly $3.62 billion in federal funds.

In 2024, K-12 spending is 33% of the state’s $11.8 billion general fund budget. In 2022, it was a high of 39% from the total of $9.2 billion.

This year’s budget will have $61.4 million in interagency transfers. Those are the Louisiana Quality Education Support fund, Temporary Aid to Need Families from the Department of Children and Family Services for the Early Childhood Program and federal Hurricane Katrina-related construction and refurbishment of school buildings. Teacher certification fees and funding from the state’s community colleges, along with insurance proceeds, make up $20 million of self-generated revenue.

The Louisiana Lottery and several other statutory funds add up to $334.3 million worth of revenue.

The $2.7 billion in federal funds will be used for special education programs, low-income students, professional development for teachers plus the federal Emergency Relief Fund.

The budget will also cover teacher stipends ($198 million) for fiscal year 2025. It will also cover block grants for 649,170 students attending city and parish school districts; charter schools; the Louisiana School for Math, Science and the Arts; the New Orleans Center for Creative Arts; Thrive Academy; juvenile justice schools; and the state’s lab schools. The latter are located on the campuses of some of the state’s public universities such as Louisiana State University and the University of Louisiana at Lafayette.

Under the state’s constitution, lawmakers are able to approve or deny the calculation of the Minimum Foundation Program but they can’t amend it.

The governor has the ability to reduce the appropriations with a two-thirds consent of both the House and Senate.

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