LAFAYETTE – The St. Landry Parish School Board unanimously approved on Thursday an additional $12,848 in sewer system expenses to the original cost of a new classroom building complex at a Park Vista Elementary in Opelousas.
Several board members who spoke prior to the vote questioned why the architect or M.D. Descant, the general contractor for the project, did not include the sewer costs in the bids that were accepted by the board last year.
In a letter addressed to the board, school attorney Gerard Caswell wrote the existing sewer drainage lines at Park Vista won’t be able to handle the additional sewerage drainage that will be created by the addition.
The $12,848 will cover the cost of running an additional sewer line and bore under a road that will allow the system to handle the additional drainage, Caswell said.
The letter written by Caswell also indicated that the project architect had “much difficulty” in getting copies of sewer and drainage surveys of Park Vista from School Board personnel.
“Therefore, the issue could not have been discovered any earlier than it was,” Caswell wrote.
Caswell’s letter also said he does not recommend entering into litigation on the issue.
Thursday’s discussion did not include the entire cost of the Park Vista project.
Board member Anthony Standberry said adding more cost to the project is difficult for a school system that earlier in the year laid off 68 employees because of a projected $4 million deficit in the general fund.
Board member Raymond Cassimere said the change order for the sewer system will use money that could have been used to make repairs at other district campuses.
FINANCE COMMITTEE: The board approved a Finance Committee report which indicates the school system had a $1.9 million general fund deficit on July 31.
The district’s fiscal year began July 1 with a projected $1.4 million deficit.
Finance Director Tressa Miller said additional revenues from a parishwide sales tax fund dedicated for employees’ salaries contained $4.25 million as of July 31.
The money from the sales taxes gives the school system a general fund balance of $2.2 million.
During the discussion on the Finance Committee report, Debbie Faul, a facilitator at the parishwide alternative school in Opelousas, said the system is receiving about $6 million monthly in state Minimum Foundation Program money.
“Your payroll as of Sept. 1 was $6.1 million, which means things are okay for now,” Faul told the board. “It does not mean that we are out of the woods.”
Despite the district’s ability to meet employee payroll at present, Faul said St. Landry’s finances are still precarious, especially those associated with transportation.
“Right now, there is about $1 million per month in operational costs that you are able to spare,” Faul said. “If you, at any time, go over that $ 1 million, you are in trouble.”
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