As part of a proposed education reform package for the 2012 legislative session, the Governor is proposing a statewide, K-12 school voucher program. The vouchers would be available to children who come from families with incomes at or below 250% of the federal poverty level (about $58,000 for a family of four) and who are either entering kindergarten or attending a school with a performance grade of C, D or F.
The statewide voucher program (the Statewide Program) would dramatically expand and modify a pilot program that has been in effect in Orleans Parish since 2008 (the Pilot Program). That program currently serves 1,832 students. According to the Governor’s office, students in more than 70% of Louisiana’s schools would be eligible for vouchers under the Statewide Program.
This report will review the voucher phenomenon, both as it has unfolded around the country and in the New Orleans Pilot Program, and analyze the proposed Statewide Program in that context. It will examine the key issues lawmakers must address in order to create a voucher program that lives up to its promises. And it will make recommendations aimed at laying a strong structural foundation for vouchers.
The Statewide Program’s structure suffers from serious defects:
• The student eligibility parameters are too broad.
• The school eligibility parameters are too lax.
• There are no academic accountability provisions.
• The financial structure of the program could hurt public schools.
Under the proposed program, a student could use a voucher to transfer from an average-quality public school to a low-quality
private school with no track record or qualifications. The student’s academic performance could decline, and the state would impose no penalties on the school. And taxpayers would foot the bill for all of it.
• Restrict participation in the program to students who:
– Come from families that would not otherwise be able to afford private school; and
– Either attend a public school with a school performance grade of “D” or “F,” or would be forced into such a school in the coming year by virtue of attendance zones or other restrictions.
• Limit program participation to schools that outperform the group of public schools from which voucher students are exiting. To achieve this end, the state should establish appropriate academic eligibility standards and mandate the rigorous testing needed to determine whether a school meets them. All schools should be required to meet the standards as a prerequisite to program participation and to maintain them thereafter. Schools that fail to maintain the specified standards should lose their program eligibility.
• If start-up schools are allowed to participate, limit the percentage of voucher students in a start-up school to 20% of its student body until such time as the school has demonstrated its ability to meet the above standards for program participation.
• Require that the voucher students at a participating school collectively outperform the group of public schools from which voucher students are exiting. Schools that fail to meet this standard within a reasonable period of time should be prohibited from accepting additional voucher students.
• Fund vouchers through the state general fund, rather than the MFP.
BGR examines the proposed 10-year millage to provide additional funding to increase the pay of Jefferson Parish School Board teachers and other employees.
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In School Board Takes a Key Step Toward Better Stewardship, BGR commends the Orleans Parish School Board for taking steps to preserve the bulk of its $45 million operating reserve for the benefit of the system as a whole.
BGR reviews a proposed tax for the upkeep of public schools in New Orleans and 11 propositions to amend the Jefferson Parish charter that voters will decide on December 6, 2014.
In On the Ballot: October 19, 2013, BGR explains, analyzes and takes positions on three tax propositions on the ballot in Jefferson Parish and two proposed charter amendments in New Orleans, one of which would reform the Sewerage &
In The Accidental Steward: The Orleans Parish School Board as a Resource Manager in the Reform Era, BGR examines the School Board’s performance as the financial steward for all public schools in Orleans.
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In this edition of Now, BGR calls on the Louisiana Board of Elementary & Secondary Education to tighten up the proposed criteria and accountability system for school participation in the Student Scholarships for Educational Excellence Program.
In Making Choice Right: Can Private School Vouchers Live Up to Their Promises? BGR examines the statewide school voucher program that the Governor is proposing, as well as the pilot program that has been in effect in Orleans Parish since 2008.
In this letter to the Orleans Parish School Board, State Board of Elementary and Secondary Education, and the Recovery School District Superintendent, BGR joins with seven local business and civic organizations to ask the school districts to go back to the drawing board on proposed amendments to New Orleans’ School Facilities Master Plan.
On the Ballot: Jefferson Parish, April 30, 2011 examines four proposed tax renewals. One is a sales tax renewal for the Jefferson Parish Public School System. The other three are property tax renewals that support Jefferson Parish drainage,
In The Price of Civilization: Addressing Infrastructure Needs in New Orleans, BGR provides information on New Orleans’ core infrastructure needs and assesses the community’s capacity to fund those needs.
In Managing Innovation: Models for Governing the System of Public Schools in New Orleans (May 2010), BGR and Tulane University’s Cowen Institute present five potential models for governing public schools in New Orleans and discuss the advantages and disadvantages of each.
On the Ballot: Orleans Parish School Tax Renewals provides an overview of four New Orleans property tax millages up for voter renewal on July 19, 2008.
BGR analyzes three tax propositions to go before voters in Jefferson Parish on March 31, 2007. The propositions would provide funding for the public schools, recreation and drainage.
BGR and the Public Affairs Research Council of Louisiana, Inc. (PAR) have issued a joint report calling for a full appraisal of financial options for local governments in fiscal crisis.
BGR analyzes a property tax renewal for the Jefferson Parish Public School System, considering the taxpayers’ investment and its importance to the school system.
Among the propositions on the ballot for October 4, 2003, are three constitutional amendments relating to coastal restoration, and another providing for the possible state takeover of failing public schools, many of which are in Orleans Parish.
This edition of BGR’s Outlook series discusses the financial challenges facing the Jefferson Parish Public School System and the current academic performance of its schools.
This issue of Outlook updates the fiscal status of the Jefferson Parish Public Schools with a focus on the revised FY1999 and the adopted FY2000 operating budgets.
BGR provides an overview and status report on the Orleans Parish School Board’s new management information system and the computer networking project to bring the Internet and other educational resources to the classroom.
This is the first report in BGR’s Outlook series on the Orleans Parish School Board. The purpose of this report is to provide an overview of the Board’s fiscal outlook with a focus on the FY 1999 (July 1,
This report reviews the City of New Orleans’ property service charge proposal on the ballot for December 5, 1998. The primary intended uses of the new revenues include pay raises for most City employees and for all Orleans Parish public school employees.
This issue of the BGR Outlook on Jefferson examines the Jefferson Parish School Board’s finances. The 16-page report analyzes the factors leading to recent operating budget deficits and discusses potential solutions.
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On November 13, 2018, Governor John Bel Edwards presented at a BGR Breakfast Briefing on State of Louisiana priorities of local importance. BGR expresses its appreciation to Governor Edwards and to our attendees for their presence and participation in...
On May 31, 2018, Dr. Cade Brumley, the new superintendent of the Jefferson Parish Public School System, addressed a BGR Breakfast Briefing on his first 100 days and his plans for the future. This Breakfast Briefing was sponsored by...
On March 22, 2018, Dr. Henderson Lewis, Jr., reviewed his first three years as superintendent of the Orleans Parish Public Schools. The BGR Breakfast Briefing was sponsored by IBERIABANK. Watch the highlights on BGR’s YouTube Channel: Watch the full...
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METAIRIE, LA (WVUE) – Jefferson Parish School Board members are debating which way to go next after voters narrowly defeated a measure that would have raised teacher pay. The Jefferson Parish School System is drawing more students in recent years, thanks in...
Just days after Jefferson Parish voters narrowly rejected a new property tax to fund a pay raise for public school employees, School Board members are gearing up for new tax proposals they hope to put before voters in the...
Jefferson Parish School Board member Cedric Floyd said Tuesday (Nov. 21) that he wants voters to reconsider an 8.45-mill property tax that was rejected on Saturday. The tax, estimated to generate $27 million a year, would be dedicated to teacher and...
Jefferson Parish voters on Saturday narrowly rejected an 8.45-mill, 10-year property tax that would have paid for salary increases for school system employees, tossing aside arguments that the parish’s teachers need to be paid more to make the system...
Jefferson Parish voters narrowly rejected a new 8.45-mill property tax Saturday (Nov. 18) that school officials requested to boost teacher pay. With more than 41,600 votes cast, the tax was rejected by a margin of 484 votes. The tax was proposed...
Jefferson Parish schools are asking taxpayers to vote “yes” on Saturday to a new 8.5 mil property tax. The money would be used to give teachers and school employees their first across the board pay raise in 10 years....
The Jefferson Parish public school system is asking voters to approve a new 8.45-mill property tax on the Nov. 18 ballot that school officials say is needed to boost teacher pay. The tax would help increase the starting pay of first...
It’s been a rocky few months for the Jefferson Parish School Board: Longtime member Ray St. Pierre died, parents protested shifting attendance zones on the east bank, and board member Cedric Floyd tried to get Superintendent Isaac Joseph suspended....
Early voting begins Friday across the state for the Nov. 18 election, with the runoffs for New Orleans mayor and two city council seats drawing the most attention, along with a statewide race for treasurer and other local tax...
New Orleans voters opted to renew three property taxes that fund public school employee salaries, supplies and disciplinary programs. The three 10-year millages, which will continue at their current rates through 2028, were on the path to resounding approval...
On Saturday at the polls, voters will decide whether to renew three millages, or local taxes, that support the public school system. Voters have approved the millages each time they’ve appeared on the ballot since 1988. If voters approve...
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(July 28, 2016) – BGR won two awards from the Governmental Research Association (GRA) at its national conference in Pittsburgh, Pa., on Tuesday, July 26, 2016. BGR won the award for Outstanding Policy Achievement for the report The Accidental Steward:...