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      The Evangeline Parish School Board Wednesday ,during a special meeting, approved implementing recommendations by the superintendent and staff to reduce its budget by some $2.8 million dollars.

      Superintendent Toni Hamlin blamed the short fall on a number of causes including: increases in retirement costs, increases in group hospitalization, rising fuel costs, loss of revenues from federal sources such as national board certified teachers stipend, non public transportation,  erate, loss of the Minimum Foundation Program growth factor and child nutrition. Hamlin is projecting a total $2.6 million dollar deficit.

        The school board approved a recommendation in Phase One to implement its staffing formula for the third straight year which will save approximately $1.2 million dollars.

         Superintendent Hamlin announced that if the school board had not been pro active and begun a new staffing formula two years ago, the cuts today would have been much more severe today.

         Also, the board adopted a number of recommendations in Phase Two: consolidate five bus routes and eliminate six bus monitors in transportation; phase in the adoption of a new textbook series; reduce substitute costs by  giving school principals more control in addressing substitute costs by having an allocation of sick days; 10 percent reduction in travel; freeze step increases for all employees; eliminating writing to read labs which would eliminate 2 para professional positions and the reduction of four custodial positions. All of these actions will save the general fund about $1.5 million dollars.

         In the Child Nutrition Program, the board approved changes that will save the program $99,740. Those actions include a meal  price increase, eliminating a cafeteria technician and reducing substitute costs.

      Board President Wayne Dardeau said “No one around this table wants to do this. We’re being forced to because of cuts from the state and federal government. We have to have a balanced budget. However, I don’t see it getting better anytime soon.”

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The Louisiana Swamp Pop Museum operated by the City of Ville Platte is open to the public every Friday and Saturday from 10:00am to 3:00pm. Come view the amazing artifacts, photos, records, Wall of Fame and hear the music. Admission charge is $3 adults, $2 seniors and $1 for children under 12. The museum is located on Northwest Railroad Avenue.

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