The Tangipahoa Parish School Board will consider Tuesday adopting a 2012-13 budget that includes funding for construction that one board member says the district should reconsider.
The School Board will hold a 6 p.m. public hearing on the budget proposal, which would suspend step raises and employee leaves, and use attrition, one-time funds and rising sales tax revenues to narrow a $9.5 million gap without layoffs or reductions in services.
The $128 million budget proposal has a $1.3 million deficit, but would maintain a board-mandated minimum General Fund balance above 7 percent.
Annual per-pupil expenditures would decrease for only the second time in the past decade, decreasing 0.7 percent from $6,825 in 2011-12 to $6,776, according to the budget summary.
“We’re very limited on revenue, and we’re having to present a budget that stays within the resources we have,” Superintendent Mark Kolwe said.
The budget also includes the proposed issuance of $58 million in revenue bonds to fund construction of three new schools, a Career Education Center and a performing arts building, as required by the district’s desegregation plan.
The projects would add about $4 million in annual bond payments, to be paid through the district’s second one-cent sales tax, according to the budget.
But the district could cut some of that construction debt, and limit the financial burden of operating new buildings, by reworking the desegregation plan, board member Brett Duncan said.
Duncan suggested several options that include consolidating schools, reconfiguring attendance zones and structuring magnet concepts around existing facilities rather than building anew in another location.
Some schools would need to expand to accommodate more students, but the student populations would be more integrated at a lower cost than under the current desegregation plan, he said.
Duncan will present his ideas to the board Tuesday.
Any changes would have to be approved by U.S. District Judge Ivan Lemelle, who oversees the desegregation case.
Reducing construction debt would free revenues for other capital improvements, such as classroom furniture, technology and educational equipment, Duncan said.
Of the $17 million generated annually by the district’s second one-cent sales tax, about $10 million goes to maintenance and facility costs and $1.1 million goes to bond payments, Chief Financial Officer Bret Schnadelbach said previously.
Setting aside another $4 million for bond payments on new construction would leave less than $2 million for other capital needs, he said.
District principals submitted more than $4.3 million in capital improvements requests for 2012-13, Schnadelbach said.
The School Board approved only $1.7 million worth of those requests, based on estimated bond payments for the new construction.