School Board funds dip in new budget

Deidre Cruse, Governmental Reporter

The Iberville Parish School Board will dip into its savings to balance this year's general fund budget, the 2010-11 budget adopted Tuesday night shows.

The board can expect general fund revenues of some $38 million for the new budget year, compared to $41 million last year.

The general fund budget will have a deficit of $3.67 million because of federal and state government funding cuts and the increased costs of retirement, said Chief Financial Officer Jolain A. Landry.

General fund revenues, comprising primarily local taxes and state entitlements, pay for current operations. Landry said she would have a grand total of school board spending, including construction, available later this week.

“Iberville Parish School Board did undergo a reduction in force in preparation for these expected cuts,” she and Superintendent P. Edward Cancienne Jr. said in a forward to the lengthy budget they proposed. “However, we will still see deficit spending for the coming year.”

“We lost 19 teachers last year,” School Board Member Dorothy R. Sansoni of Plaquemine said, questioning why the board's employment had risen from 750 last year to 761 in the new budget.

The school board can expect around $1 million in additional money from the state's Minimum Foundation Program (MFP) because of an increase in enrollment at the Iberville Math, Science and Arts Academy-West, which gained 345 students this year, Landry said. She said the school system will not know how much it will receive from MFP until the official enrollment figures are filed on October 1.

One-time federal stimulus money that was available last year is gone, and there is nothing yet final on a new federal program aimed at helping school districts and state and local governments maintain their levels of employment, the financial officer said.

A number of other grants the school system has been receiving have either been reduced or cut entirely, Landry said.

In addition to funding cuts, the general fund has to support increased maintenance costs.

“In addition to funding cuts, the general fund has to increase its support for our Maintenance Department operations,” Dr. Cancienne and Landry wrote. “These costs are on the rise due to failing school facilities and equipment, increased retirement contributions for employer [sic] and additional facilities coming online.”

In the 2009-10 fiscal year, the school system had expenditures of $41.9 million and lost some $375,068 in funding, leaving the board with a $1.258 million deficit and an ending fund balance of $18.9 million.

In the new budget, expenditures are expected to be $40.8 million. Outside sources of funding are expected to drop by $926,600, and the board expects to end the year with a fund balance of $15.3 million.