Parish schools get good audit, consider new junior high

Published 5:17 am Saturday, December 10, 2016


At their December board meeting Thursday night, the Washington Parish School Board approved a bond election that could result in a new junior high school, and they got some good news from their auditor.

During the meeting, the board considered a motion to call for a bond election that, if passed, could pay for a new junior high school in Franklinton.

Alan Offner, the district’s bonding attorney, said the vote will be held April 29, 2017, the bond will not exceed $28 million and the debt will not run over 20 years. If passed, the bond will levy an additional 13.5 mills on parish homeowners in addition to the current 16-mill tax rate.

On a related but separate issue, board member John Wyble updated the board on ongoing investigations into moving the district offices to the current Franklinton Junior High School building.

The board was prepared to consider a plan to repurpose the junior high facilities into office space, but Wyble asked for the plan to be returned to the finance committee, due to the discovery of new information.

Wyble also noted that the consideration of a new junior high school was not a sudden move.

“That’s the result of a lot of work for the last few years now,” he said. “It wasn’t on the fly. We’ve put a lot of work into it.”

Also Thursday, the board authorized advertising for telecommunication services and they accepted the high bid on two old buses. The district is getting $500 each for 1991 and 1993 Bluebird school buses.

At the end of the meeting, Superintendent Darrell Fairburn announced the community is holding a retirement ceremony for outgoing Franklinton Mayor Wayne Fleming on Friday, Dec. 16, from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m.

The agenda called for the board to get a presentation on district scores from state testing. That presentation did not occur Thursday, but board member Dan Slocum, at the end of the meeting, thanked Mt. Hermon School for bringing its score up from a “C” to a “B.”

“They’re so exuberant over there, and they’re already talking about how they’re
going to move to an ‘A,’” he said.

At the beginning of the meeting, Todd Tournillon gave the board the district’s annual audit and he reported no problems at all.

“We’re pleased to report that we’re issuing a clean opinion or an unmodified opinion,” he said.

Tournillon is with the firm Postlethwaite and Netterville and he said, in short, the district is managing its money well.

Tournillon said his firm looked at specific areas, including federally funded programs, compliance and internal controls and the general fund balance and all areas are secure.

However, Tournillon said because state law changed to include pension liabilities as deficits, the district now has a $40-to-50-million deficit. He noted that this is normal. The district also has a $12.5-million fund balance, though some of that money is dedicated to specific projects, and that figure does not reflect the general fund balance.

Finally, Tournillon said new state laws that are being discussed could impact the district’s accounting next year.

“There’s potential changes — they’re not official or approved yet — but the legislative auditor has sent us in draft form proposed changes in procedures and reports for next year for all governmental agencies in the state,” he said.

The changes would add new requirements to future audits, but Tournillon did not get into specifics and he added that no changes have been made yet.

Wyble thanked the finance department for getting a good audit.

“We’re working hard and we’re doing what we say we’re going to do with those dollars,” he said.

The board voted to accept the report.