Starting the Budget Process for East Baton Rouge Schools

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Chief Executive Officer at Baton Rouge Alliance for Students, Adonica Duggan

Adonica Duggan from the Baton Rouge Alliance for Students joined the show to discuss the challenges and opportunities facing the EBR school district. As the school year wraps up, excitement abounds among students and teachers, but parents are less thrilled about the half-day schedules. The transition phase between different dismissal times can be challenging for families.

The main focus of the conversation was the proposed budget, which spans a hefty 106 pages. Unfortunately, this complexity makes it difficult for parents and the community to fully understand and digest. The feeling of déjà vu from last year’s budget discussions lingers, but there’s hope that the process will be more transparent this time.

The critical question is whether the proposed budget aligns with the board’s priorities and the community’s values. Adonica Duggan expressed concerns about resource allocation. While educators are highly valued, teacher salaries often take a backseat in budget conversations. Ideally, permanent salary increases should be prioritized within the general fund budget, rather than relying on special funds or temporary solutions. The goal is to ensure competitive wages and retain excellent teachers in every classroom.

However, Adonica emphasized that the proposed raises are not funded through recurring revenue. Without a surplus flowing into a dedicated fund, the sustainability of these compensation increases becomes uncertain. Over time, relying on one-time dollars for recurring expenses could create financial challenges.

In summary, the EBR school district faces budget complexities, but early engagement and public input provide hope for better outcomes. The challenge lies in balancing priorities, aligning with community values, and ensuring sustainable investments in education1.