LAFAYETTE — The Lafayette Parish School Board ended its budget review of $244 million in educational and operational expenses Tuesday with a small surplus: $300.
“It’s basically a break-even budget,” said Billy Guidry, the district’s chief financial officer.
The balanced budget is made possible with $583,856 from the board’s reserve or rainy day fund, Guidry said.
Board members had some suggestions for the surplus.
“So, are we going to order pizza for the board meetings this year?” School Board member Greg Awbrey joked.
“Only one topping,” Superintendent Pat Cooper quipped.
The $244 million budget includes $3.6 million in task force recommendations included in the district’s turnaround plan adopted by the board in April. It involves several initiatives, such as expansion of early childhood services and health and wellness teams on school campuses.
As part of the health and wellness program, the district will begin billing Medicaid for relevant student services, which will help bring more revenue into the district, Cooper said. He added that he would like to earmark those revenues for coordinated school health programs.
Of the $3.6 million in task force recommendations, the largest amount is nearly $1.1 million in the general fund to support “academic opportunity” programs, such as an extended school day for students who need remediation, and an adjustment to the school calendar to create one-week intercessions for students to recoup failing grades or intense remediation.
The budget workshop ended in less than 90 minutes with little discussion from board members Awbrey, Mark Allen Babineaux, Hunter Beasley, Kermit Bouillion and Shelton Cobb.
Cobb questioned about $545,000 earmarked for the maintenance department, which covered costs of new vehicles that will be used by night custodian supervisors and grounds supervisors who each will manage a zone of 11 schools.
The zoned maintenance and new supervisor positions are part of the district turnaround plan changes. Transportation Director Bill Samec told Cobb some of the vehicles that will be replaced with the purchase are 22 years old.
Other vehicles are at least 11 years old, Guidry said.
About $164,000 in cuts were made by each department reducing its budget by 4 percent, Guidry said. Supervisors then identified additional cuts for a total of about $542,000 in savings, he said.
About $700,000 was restored in the budget with the elimination of a stipend program implemented at Alice Boucher Elementary School, Guidry said. When the school was reconstituted in 2009, the board approved the stipend program to recruit and retain teachers.
If Boucher had met its state accountability score requirements, teachers and other certified personnel would receive a stipend, Guidry said. The school has not met its accountability goals since 2010-11, so the stipends will be removed, he said.
The board met last month to discuss its non-general fund budgets, such as capital projects and food and nutrition services. The board will have a special meeting May 22 to finalize the proposed budget, however, no final decisions will be made until June 20 after a public hearing.
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