New school budget up to $109 million with bond issue funds

DEIDRE CRUSE, Governmental Reporter

The Iberville Parish School Board on Monday adopted a $109 million budget for 2009-10, a $49 million increase over the previous year’s, Chief Financial Officer Jolain Landry said.

The proceeds of a $40 million bond issue for school construction is responsible for the large hike, Land0ry said.

But, she said the School Board had to dip into fund balances to keep the operating budget in balance.

Parish sales tax collections are expected to decline this, the financial officer said.

Shintech Inc.’s construction of a $1.9 million chemical plant south of Plaquemine has been the main factor in raising sales taxes to record levels over the past two years.

Both the federal and state governments have cut back on grants to the local school system for such programs as Reading First and General Education Diploma (GEE) remediation programs, Landry said.

The federal government is not reimbursing the School Food Program 100 percent of the cost of providing free and reduced-cost meals to students from low income families, she said, adding that the program will cost the school system $600,000 this year.

More than 80 percent of local students qualify for meal subsidies.

Additionally, because of a state budget crunch, the Legislature did not provide an increase in Minimum Foundation Program (MFP) funding, which will continue to pay the school system $3,500 per student.

Landry said she see a slight increase in state MFP funds; local enrollment is expected to rise because of the Math, Science and Arts Academy program.