New Louisiana Law Offers Freedom From Many School Regulations

Last Updated: July 23, 2010

This article appeared in the July 2010 Rural Policy Matters.

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The Louisiana Federation of Teachers has filed suit challenging a new Louisiana law that gives superintendents and school boards broad authority to waive many state laws and regulations.

The “Red Tape Reduction Act,” championed by Governor Bobby Jindal, went into effect this summer. The lawsuit challenging it as unconstitutional was filed immediately, claiming that the Act gives legislative responsibility to the State Board of Elementary and Secondary Education.

Under the law, school superintendents, with their local board’s approval, could ask the State Board for a waiver of a number of education laws and regulations and propose an alternative plan. Specifically, the teachers union is concerned about language in the Act that allows school officials to waive "any combination of such laws, including but not limited to those related to instructional time, curriculum, funding, personnel, student-to-personnel ratios and student support." The waiver request would have to include how the plan would benefit students. It is unclear whether any district will have time to secure a waiver before the opening of the 2010–11 school year.

In other Louisiana news, a study group is being formed to consider the school finance system. One potential change to the funding system that is under consideration is student-based budgeting, sometimes referred to as backpacking.

Student-based budgeting moves budget decisions to the school level, with principals being made responsible for an allocated amount available for each student at the school. The funding method is similar to that used for most charter schools.

Louisiana faces a potential $2 billion drop in its state budget next year, and some education officials have questioned the availability of money for a school funding study. Louisiana’s state aid formula, called the Minimum Foundation Program, supplies about 40% of school funding, with the rest coming from local tax dollars. State aid for public schools was frozen at current levels again this year, the second year in a row.

Read more:

Local stories about the LFT lawsuit:

Coverage of the school funding freeze:

Coverage on the potential school funding study:

Read more from the July 2010 Rural Policy Matters.