LPSB approves budget, provides academic update

The LPSB voted to approve the 2022-23 budget during Tuesday’s meeting.

By Malcolm Butler

During Tuesday night’s monthly Lincoln Parish School Board meeting, the annual budget was approved while an academic update was provided by Dana Talley, Chief Academic Officer for the parish.

The 2022-23 budget for the Lincoln Parish School Board includes a grand total of $108,252,282 which includes $61,176,901 from the general fund and $47,075,381 from the special revenue fund. 

The budget calls for expenditures totaling $97,395,792 which includes $57,542,986 from the general fund and another $39,852,806 from the special revenue fund. 

This would leave an excess of $5,406,679 which would up the fund balance to $51,202,208.

A report was also provided on the August sales tax revenue which included collections of $2.1 million, up 2.2% from August of 2021. The current two-month total for the fiscal year is up 1.6% from the same period of 2021.

Talley’s report focused on Lincoln Parish’s LEAP scores, specifically Mission Measure #3: percent of 3-8 grade students achieving mastery or above on both ELA and math. The parish’s proficiency goal is 55 percent in every subject. 

Due to the direct impact of school’s closing in the spring of 2020 due to Covid 19 and continued obstacles during the early portion of the 2021-22 school year, numbers did fall. However, the recent scores show a positive rebound.

“We aren’t where we want to be on most of them, but we are trending up on most of them,” said Talley. 

“It’s not just if the kids are proficient. Each kid is assigned an achievement level based on how they performed on the LEAP test. When you think about how our kids are scoring over time, we want those percentages to go up.”

In the ELA elementary scores, the 2022 percent of those reaching advanced or mastery was 43.4 percent (up from 41.0 percent in 2021 but not yet at the pre-covid mark of 43.8 percent). And still below the parish’s goal of 55 percent. 

High School English I numbers showed an advanced or mastery rate of 51.7 percent (down from 52.8 percent in 2021 but still well above the pre-covid rate of 44.4 percent). 

High School English II numbers sit at 56.5 percent, up from 50.9 percent in 2019 and 53.6 percent in 2021. And surpassing the parish goal of 55 percent. 

Thus the high school English scores are some of the best. 

“Overall ELA scores are impressive, but we still have some areas we have to work on,” said Talley.

On the math side, the elementary schools have an advanced or mastery of 34.2 percent, up from 30.4 percent in 2021 but still shy of the 38.0 percent in 2019. 

In high school algebra, the rate was at 42.1 percent, up from 40.6 percent in 2021 but still shy of the 42.3 percent of 2019. 

The high school geometry scores were the most concerning. The advance or mastery rate is at 40.2 percent down from both 43.2 percent in 2021 and 51.0 percent in 2019.

“One of the things we talked about today in our district meeting is with a lot of the kids who are scoring approaching basic or unsatisfactory, we are having issues with attendance and potentially discipline,” said Talley. “We we want to get a handle on that, making sure the kids stay in school. Making sure the kids come to school. If they aren’t in class, they have a zero percent chance of learning what the teacher is teaching.”

Talley mentioned that one of the main goals in the parish is to close the gap between white students and students of color. There is currently a 34 percent difference in the percentage of white students earning advanced or mastery (53 percent) and students of color (19 percent). 

Although both of those numbers are trending in a positive direction, up 4 percent from the 2021 test scores. 

“We are trying to meet the needs of every kid,” said Talley. “What I want teachers and principals to do is think about every kid on their campus no matter what subgroup they fall into or don’t fall into. How can I meet the needs of every one of those kids? And make sure they are actually mastering content.

“If we just get up and teach lessons, you have a set of kids that will somehow figure it out. But you have some kids that will need the extra support after the fact. We have to make sure we are not just teaching lessons, but that we are teaching kids and that they are mastering the content that we are teaching.”

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