Parish School Board adopts 2013-14 budget

Published 10:04 am Sunday, September 15, 2013

Budget adoption was the primary order of business for the Washington Parish School Board Thursday night, including a general fund where expenditures are projected to be more than $619,000 higher than revenues.

As of June 30 the fund balance in the general fund stood at $10.33 million. Revenue for the coming 2013-14 fiscal year is estimated at $45.99 million, and expenditures are estimated at $46.60 million.

It is projected that general fund expenditures will exceed revenues by $619,121.37. If that stands, the fund balance would be $9.7 million as of June 30, 2014.

Director of Finance Beth Keaton said a major change in the general fund from last year is the increase in retirement for school employees and teachers. The employers’ portion of school employees’ retirement will go from 30.8 percent to 32.3 percent this fiscal year, an increase of $18,168 to the system.

The employers’ portion of teachers’ retirement will increase from 24.5 percent to 27.2 percent. The increase to the school system will be $586,413.

An additional general fund expense will be $300,000 in planned renovations and repairs, Keaton said.

The portion of workers compensation that comes from the general fund went from $41,173.29 to $363,383.06 this year, and increase of $322,209.77. Keaton said there was a workers comp fund balance in previous years that helped pay that expense, but the fund balance has been exhausted.

She said the full expenses for workers compensation are now coming out of the general fund and the system’s federal funds: school food service, Title I and II, and special education.

A one-time cost of $43,000 to transfer all teachers to the new salary schedule will also come from the general fund.

On a positive note, Keaton said, health insurance expenses decreased by 1.7 percent, saving the school system $115,860. That cost also decreased 1.7 percent for employees, which will save them money as well, she said. It is estimated that sales tax collections will increase by $84,187, she said.

“We also received an extra allotment of money equal to about 2.75 percent of our Level I MFP as a non-permanent increase of $699,000,” she said.

Half those funds must go toward employee supplements, and Keaton said the other half will be used to offset the large increase in retirement expenses.

Keaton said some measures are in place to help provide savings to the general fund during 2013-14. She said one is the program to reduce utility expenses at the schools. Each school will be sent a report on monthly utility usage, with the goal to reduce utility costs for the entire school year.

Half of any savings from six-year average for utility costs to the costs for this year will go back to the employees, and the other half will be a savings to the general fund. Keaton said she thinks that will provide a good incentive for savings.

Also adopted for the 2013-14 fiscal year were the technology, Angie 5 mill tax, special federal funds, Rural Education Achievement Program, LA4 (TANF), school food service, school food service summer feeding, IASA Title I and II and special education IDEA and preschool budgets. Keaton said each of those budgets is much the same as it was in the previous year.

Additionally, certified public accountant Minda Raybourn presented a report on a routine audit done at Mt. Hermon School for the period of July 1, 2012 through June 30, 2013, following the change to a new principal this year, and said she found the school’s finances to be in good shape.

In an item that came from the Capital Improvement Committee, the board voted to forgive all previous loans made to the schools from the School Board on capital projects or security systems. The vote also includes the provision that no future loans will be made until there is a policy in place addressing loans. Superintendent Darrell Fairburn said he would bring a resolution on that topic to a future meeting.

The board approved adoption of Personnel Evaluation Program Bulletin No. 130 — job descriptions that have been written for all employees for this school year.

Liability insurance at a total cost of $237,125, excluding medical payments and uninsured motorists, was accepted. At the recommendation of President Matthew Tate and the vote of the board, Keaton was given the authorization to go through the list of vehicles to determine if comprehensive coverage can be removed from any of the older ones. He said some old trailers, for example, might be worth less than the deductible.