The annual application period for the state’s school voucher program is now open, despite uncertainty over availability of state funding.
Due to a 2013 Louisiana Supreme Court ruling, vouchers are not funded through the Minimum Foundation Program, or MFP. That’s the money public schools receive from both state and local tax dollars.
On Monday, Louisiana First Circuit Court of Appeal decided Type 2 charter schools don’t qualify for MFP funding either.
"The Type 2 charter is a charter that does not get its charter through the local school district," explains Debbie Meaux, President of the Louisiana Association of Educators, one of the parties that filed the charter lawsuit.
"They do have to go to the school district first," she says, "but when the school district says ‘no,’ they often appeal to BESE."
The Board of Elementary and Secondary Education has been overriding local school districts and authorizing Type 2 Charters, then pulling public school funding back from the local districts to pay for the charter operations.
BESE denied a request for comment, as they plan to appeal the ruling. However, Assistant Superintendent of Education Erin Bendily was asked about the ruling at a Joint Education meeting Tuesday.
"We believe that those are public schools and that the state has an obligation to fund those schools and the students that are attending those schools," she explains.
Currently these charter schools receive around $80 million of public funds each year. Meaux says the loss of that money has implications for local public school districts.
"The actual effect of taking $80 million dollars out of the public school system to place into a separate system puts all of our children at a disadvantage. All of the things we do for our children in the public school system are affected by the funding."