Superintendent says Avoyelles public schools out-perform based on resources

Avoyelles Parish schools jumped up more in state rankings than any other district in Louisiana, based on financial resources for public education, Superintendent Blaine Dauzat told board members at their Sept. 5 meeting.

“There are districts in the state that receive over $11,000 per student and we receive $8,100,” Dauzat said. “Is it fair that we are judged the same way?”

Dauzat said two businesses each with $1 million in sales may appear to be equally successful, but “if Business A spent $500,000 and Business B spent $800,000, isn’t it obvious that Business A was more successful?”

Statistics from the Louisiana Dept of Education show that Avoyelles Parish spends $8,123 per student in state Minimum Foundation Program allocations and local tax revenues. Some public school districts receive over $11,000 per student. The state average is over $9,000.

Avoyelles Parish’s district performance score of 73.6, a “C” on the state’s grading scale, ranks 58th out of the state’s 69 public school districts.

‘POINTS PER DOLLAR’

Using a “points per dollar” comparison, Avoyelles jumps to 43rd in the state. The 15-spot jump is the largest in the state.

“Are we going to fly a flag in front of the School Board office that says ‘Woohoo. We’re No. 43,’” Dauzat asked rhetorically. “Of course we aren’t. But we’re proud of the fact that we over-perform our financial resources more than any other district in Louisiana.”

Dauzat said that method “is not a perfect way to figure scores,” but was done to “make the point that we should not all be judged the same way. So many factors influence a district’s score. Money is just one of them -- although it’s a pretty important one.”

He said the point needs to be made that “our principals and teachers do an outstanding job -- especially considering what they’re given financially.”

The main reason for the low per-pupil expenditure figure is the local portion generated by taxes approved by Avoyelles voters. Avoyelles’ local contribution to public schools is the second lowest among the 69 districts, behind Washington Parish.

The funding figures serve to prove a point private consultant Education Resource Services made in a recent grant-funded survey of the school system.

ERS said a shortage of certified teachers was one major problem in the district. A main reason for that shortage was a lack of applicants and large turnover of teachers leaving Avoyelles schools due to comparatively lower salaries and lack of resources available in other districts.

“I simply believe all factors should be taken into account when judging a school system. The current grading scale does not do that,” Dauzat said. “Every district in the state of Louisiana is judged exactly the same way. I think that needs to be re-thought.

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