The other shoe has dropped in the Livingston Parish School System.
News in March of impending staff reductions in the wake of the Great Flood of 2016 drew concern from teachers and other school system personnel. As many as 75 teachers may be forced to find work in other systems.
The harsh reality surfaced when Gary Duhe, a popular high-profile basketball coach at Live Oak High School, announced Friday that the school administration eliminated his position.
Duhe, whose career spans 42 years, has earned himself a spot among Louisiana’s elite high school basketball coaches.
The announcement drew unfavorable response not only from schools in Livingston Parish, but throughout the greater Baton Rouge area.
Amid the disappointment from players and parents in the Watson community, the layoff served as a wakeup call that the Livingston Parish School System had no other choice but to come to grips with reality.
The Livingston Parish School System will lose approximately $4.2 million based on the funding allocation in the Minimum Foundation Program, which determines the cost to educate students in public elementary and secondary schools based on student population and tax base.
The announcement based on figures tallied in February triggered red flags through the post-flood drop in ad valorem tax revenue and student population.
The latest count from the Livingston Parish School System indicates approximately 500 students will not return in August, either because of ongoing home repairs or relocation.
The lower numbers forced prompt action because an overstaffing situation in August would force combination of classes or elimination of courses. Either way, it would disrupt the school schedule both for students and faculty.
The possibility remains that many of the students could come back, which would necessitate the hiring of more teachers.
At the present time, however, the school system must operate by the numbers they have already know and not from speculation of what they will have once students return to school in early August.
It means that very capable teachers and coaches may have to seek work in a neighboring parish or find another career. In the same case as Duhe, many of the job eliminations may draw an unpopular response from the community.
The move represents what many will grudgingly recognize: Recovery will come slowly, with an ample share of bumps down the road.