Ashley Rodrigue / Eyewitness News
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MANDEVILLE, La. -- School leaders in St. Tammany Parish are speaking out against the governor's education reform plan.

The school board, which is already challenging part of the changes in court, is now claiming the effects of the reform are hurting the quality in the classroom and the quantity in the district's pocketbook.

Plenty of parents say that has become evident to them as the first nine weeks of school come to a close.

'I think there's a lot of concern with the direction things are going in our public schools,' said Sharon Hewitt.

Board members have heard a lot of that lately, and threw their own concerns into the mix this week at two forums with parents and teachers.

'Now that we're beginning to learn exactly how dire these money situations are, we knew we had to get the information out to them so we could start having their support as we go along and improve things,' said Jack Loup, the board president.

Problems surfacing include teachers stressing over evaluations, kids focusing too much on standardized tests and the district losing millions to the voucher program.

'That's the local tax dollars that we're letting our taxpayers in St. Tammany Parish know are leaving our school system, through no fault of ours,' Loup said. 'It's going and we have to make up for that somewhere.'

State Superintendent John White told Eyewitness News in a statement, 'State funding for education in St. Tammany Parish is actually higher than it was two years ago. If the St. Tammany Parish School Board wanted to increase funding further, they should not have rolled back their local millages. But more important than that, when taxpaying parents choose to have their child attend a scholarship or charter school, they are exercising their right to do what they think is best for their child. It is the taxpayer's money after all, not the government's.'

While school leaders continue spreading their issues with the new system, parents worry it may be too late to get on a better track.

'Unfortunately, I think it takes a little while for the message to get out and I think our people are now beginning to see how things are affecting our schools and their children, then people start to wake up,' Hewitt said.

School board members say they will continue making their presentation around the area, including to other school boards that have requested it.

Members are hoping to put together a plan to change the reform during the next session.

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