Earlier this month, the Louisiana Supreme Court’s declared unconstitutional a statute which required school districts to transmit to private schools per capita state aid funding allocations for each child that chose to attend. The court’s decision to throw out the school funding formula for the 2012-2013 year means the state reverts to the 2011-2012 formula. As a result, the State now owes the public school districts approximately $30 million in additional state aid.
Governor Bobby Jindal’s statewide voucher program used money from the basic public school funding system to send children to private schools. Under the voucher resolution the legislature passed last year, the taxpayer money followed each child, and a private school would receive the $8,500 that had been allotted for each public school student, through the state’s minimum foundation program (MFP). In a 6-1 decision, the court nullified the current year’s MFP, holding that MFP funds can only be used for public school expenses and cannot be used to fund private school vouchers; the court also cited procedural violations in the legislation’s passage.
The state now owes its public school districts $12 million that they collectively lost to voucher payments, $14.5 million spent on eight charter schools, and roughly $3 million that went to various other initiatives not included in the previous year’s formula. Additionally, if lawmakers plan to continue the voucher program, they will need to come up with estimated $45 million outside of the public school funds to cover the costs.