College & Workforce Readiness

Louisiana, Mississippi Lawmakers to Weigh Revenue Needs

September 23, 2005 3 min read
  • Save to favorites
  • Print

Mississippi legislators were scheduled to convene in a special session this week, and their Louisiana counterparts are expected to do so in the next month or so, as both states focus on issues of economic recovery and aid for coastal school districts in the wake of Hurricane Katrina.

Louisiana lawmakers face the problem of helping some flood-ravaged districts survive financially. The New Orleans school system, which enrolled 60,000 students before the storm forced mass evacuations, is no longer paying its teachers.

See Also

Read the related story,

State Rep. Carl N. Crane, the Republican who chairs the education committee of the Democratic-controlled Louisiana House, said he and other state officials fear that Louisiana could lose many well-qualified teachers to neighboring states unless their paychecks can continue.

“The [education] system does not cease to exist, even if the schools don’t have students. It’s got to be in place once the students come back,” he said of the school districts closed because of damage from Katrina.

In addition, he promised, “those [Louisiana] districts that are picking up students displaced from the impacted areas, they will be reimbursed for the additional costs.”

Rep. Crane added that he expects Gov. Kathleen Babineaux Blanco, a Democrat, to call a special session for October or November.


Louisiana lawmakers will consider changing the state’s school finance formula to keep teachers’ paychecks flowing while supplying extra money to the many districts across the state now serving students displaced from the coastal areas, Mr. Crane said.

The state has had nearly 250,000 students from public and private schools displaced by the hurricane and the flooding that followed, he said. The lawmaker suggested that the costs of educating evacuee students may need to be divided between the students’ former districts and the ones now serving them.

Louisiana, like Mississippi, is also seeking financial aid as well as regulatory flexibility from the federal government. (“Requests Seek Financial Aid, Policy Waivers,” Sept. 14, 2005.)

“We’re all committed to keeping the education progress that we’re making, keeping it on track,” he said.

Mississippi Session

In Mississippi, Gov. Haley Barbour, a Republican, called the Democratic-controlled legislature into a special session, which was set to open Sept. 27, to deal with the state’s fiscal challenges and help storm-damaged districts avoid the financial distress some Louisiana districts are facing.

Districts in Mississippi that remain closed are still paying their teachers and administrators, lawmakers said last week. Gov. Barbour is allowing noncertified school employees to be placed on administrative leave so they can continue to receive pay and benefits temporarily.

But, just as in Louisiana, legislators may need to act to allow districts to share funding because upward of 34,000 Mississippi students cannot yet attend schools in storm-damaged districts.

State Sen. Mike Chaney, the chairman of the education committee of the Mississippi Senate, said the state has hired school finance consultants to create “a moving average” of per-pupil costs so that state funds could follow students to different districts, and then back to their old schools when they reopen.


The Democrat added that the state may need to provide extra money to schools if federal aid and insurance payments do not cover all repair costs. “The issue for us will be, how do we replace the local tax dollars in these districts that have lost upwards of 40 to 50 percent of their tax base?” Sen. Chaney said.

Lawmakers also will consider providing small-business loans from the state to help some primary employers—and revenue-generators for schools—rebuild. In addition, they will weigh new rules for casinos along the state’s Gulf Coast, many of which were devastated by the storm.

Current state law dictates that casinos cannot sit on Mississippi land, which has forced developers to build casinos and resort hotels on barges and piers attached to land along the Gulf of Mexico and on the Mississippi River.

The legislature could change those rules, which Gov. Barbour and others argue would allow resorts to rebuild more quickly and more affordably.

“It’s going to be pretty hotly debated,” said Rep. Cecil Brown, a Democrat from Jackson who chairs the House education committee in Mississippi. He plans to support changes to the casino laws.

“I’m going to support moving them on land,” Mr. Brown added. “It’s rather silly to have them appearing to be boats,” when they aren’t.

Others fear that an expansion of gambling, which some in Mississippi see as immoral, could allow gambling to explode on the coast and in other areas.

A version of this article appeared in the September 28, 2005 edition of Education Week as Louisiana, Mississippi Lawmakers to Weigh Revenue Needs


This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Classroom Technology Webinar
How to Leverage Virtual Learning: Preparing Students for the Future
Hear from an expert panel how best to leverage virtual learning in your district to achieve your goals.
Content provided by Class
English-Language Learners Webinar AI and English Learners: What Teachers Need to Know
Explore the role of AI in multilingual education and its potential limitations.
Education Webinar The K-12 Leader: Data and Insights Every Marketer Needs to Know
Which topics are capturing the attention of district and school leaders? Discover how to align your content with the topics your target audience cares about most. 

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Teacher Jobs
Search over ten thousand teaching jobs nationwide — elementary, middle, high school and more.
View Jobs
Principal Jobs
Find hundreds of jobs for principals, assistant principals, and other school leadership roles.
View Jobs
Administrator Jobs
Over a thousand district-level jobs: superintendents, directors, more.
View Jobs
Support Staff Jobs
Search thousands of jobs, from paraprofessionals to counselors and more.
View Jobs

Read Next

College & Workforce Readiness Opinion Is It Time to Ditch the Carnegie Unit?
The measure's fixation on seat time may have stifled K–12 innovation. Will abandoning it lead to improved learning or lower standards?
9 min read
Image shows a multi-tailed arrow hitting the bullseye of a target.
DigitalVision Vectors/Getty
College & Workforce Readiness Spotlight Spotlight on Career Readiness & Technology
This Spotlight will help you learn about workforce readiness after-school programs, the benefits of virtual work-based learning, and more.
College & Workforce Readiness What's Next for AP? 4 Takeaways From a College Board Official
In a recent interview with Education Week, the head of the Advanced Placement program discussed a variety of priorities and principles.
3 min read
Trevor Packer, head of the College Board’s AP Program speaks at the AP Annual Conference in Seattle, Wash. on July 20, 2023.
Trevor Packer, the head of the College Board’s AP program, speaks at the organization's annual conference in Seattle in July.
Ileana Najarro/Education Week
College & Workforce Readiness Opinion What We Lose With the End of Affirmative Action
My own path to higher education demonstrates the importance of reaching out to students of all backgrounds, writes a Harvard medical student.
David Velasquez
5 min read
Illustration of hands and puzzle pieces.
DigitalVision Vectors / Getty