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School Funding on the Ballot

By nearly all statistical accounts, the DeSoto Parish School System is doing well. We are committed to working at the highest possible level and this contagious attitude is permeating the system, creating an infectious desire to promote success and significance.  But, our work for students never ceases; for education is a journey not a destination.

I’m blessed to be serving in my third academic year as Superintendent of DeSoto Parish Schools. Immediately, I encountered the loss of over 50 million dollars in revenue as the Haynesville Shale’s economic impact slowed. Fundamentally, philosophically, and politically, I have a conservative spirit and understand that government should live within its means and that’s what we’ve accomplished– drastically reducing expenditures to align with incoming revenue. If this practice is expected of every American family and business, it should be expected of a school system as well.

While many of our reductions were uncomfortable, efficiency hawks should appreciate that we cleansed identifiable waste, amended our buildings to our student enrollment, reduced central office staff by about 20 percent, and found other creative ways to reduce spending.  As we reduced expenditures, we created an infrastructure to support a leaner system while our academic presence has grown stronger.

DeSoto ranks 23rd of over 70 Louisiana Districts for Academic Achievement and 2nd in Louisiana for rate of improvement. Our proficiency rates exceed the state average for 1st time in parish history and we have no failing schools. We are named to the National Advanced Placement Honor Roll, our gifted/talented students have more than doubled, and ACT scores have increased. Recently, the National Institute for Excellence in Teaching named us a “District of Distinction.” We have also reduced student suspensions and drop-outs while our graduation rate is at an all-time high.

These honors are complemented by our successful co-curricular and extra-curricular offerings provided in art, band, clubs, drama, JROTC, music, and sports. From Universal Pre-K, which provides no-cost early education to all 4 year olds, to our dual enrollment offerings, which allow students to graduate with free college credit, we are striving to provide better opportunities for DeSoto’s next generation of leaders.  The efforts of students, employees, parents, and community members have combined to provide a holistic education to our students.

Operating a school system is costly. In DeSoto, local property taxes generate the largest portion of our revenue. Two of these taxes, the Operations Tax and the Maintenance Tax, require renewal by voters every 10 years – this serves as a check and balance for the system and holds us accountable. On Saturday, March the 28th, voters will decide if our system is able to continue this funding. If voters approve both property tax renewals, this will keep the same tax rates since 2012 – these propositions are not new taxes. In advance of Saturday, I would like to clarify the purpose of these two renewals.

The Operations Tax is a levied millage of 43.17. The funds generated from this tax pay the salaries of our employees: teachers, counselors, librarians, bus drivers, cafeteria workers, janitors, and paraprofessionals. Additionally, our Operations Tax provides mandated employee benefits such as retirement, insurance, and workers compensation. The Maintenance Tax is levied at a millage of 8.17. Money collected from this tax pays the salaries of our maintenance department craftsmen plus our contribution toward the salary of our School Resource Officers which is a shared cost with the DeSoto Parish Sheriff’s Department. Additionally, our Maintenance Tax provides the preservation of our school facilities and provides premiums for property and casualty insurance. Further, air-conditioned buses with GPS monitoring and video/audio surveillance are financed through this funding stream.

These two property tax funds were not used to pay one-time supplements, or “bonuses”, to our employees, nor were they used to install “Astroturf” or its replacement costs on our football fields.  Further, these taxes were not used for new construction at any of our school campuses.  Those expenditures were paid from one-time sales tax increases associated with the Haynesville Shale.

I continue encouraging DeSoto Parish citizens to be involved in our public education system. I have been sincere, accessible, and honest with the community I serve.  Over the last three months, l have spoken at 40 community events to share the story of our school system, including our successes and challenges.  I have also shared information about these two tax renewals so there would be transparency in our work.  If you are pleased with our work, please help cheerlead our cause. If you have concerns, please contact a teacher, a principal, a district employee (me included), or your Board Member and let’s try and make it right. Our desire is for everyone to be content and satisfied as we march forward toward student opportunity.

I encourage all DeSoto Parish citizens to have their voices heard by voting on March 28th.   

 

Dr. Cade Brumley
Superintendent

Teacher Job Fair

The DeSoto Parish Teacher Job Fair will be held Tuesday, March 31, 2015, 2:00-4:00 p.m. at the Calhoun Center 515 Louisiana St. Mansfield LA.  For information please contact Deb Gamble, Sandra Green or Nancy Ruston at 318-872-2836. 

News

Easter Break
Schools will be closed April 3-10 for Good Friday and Easter Break.  Students will return on Monday, April 13. Continue
Posted by: Sherri Laffitte
Published: 3/19/15

What's Happening...

Today: 3/29/15

News

Easter Break
Schools will be closed April 3-10 for Good Friday and Easter Break.  Students will return on Monday, April 13. Continue
Posted by: Sherri Laffitte
Published: 3/19/15