West Feliciana School Board adopts balanced budget

The West Feliciana Parish School Board on Tuesday approved a balanced $24.5 million general fund budget for the current school year.

More than half of the expected revenue — $13.5 million — is coming from local taxes, while state aid through the Minimum Foundation Program will be about $10.3 million.

School Superintendent Hollis G. Milton said West Feliciana Parish ranks about fifth in the state in local funding as a percentage of the entire budget.

“We’re very fortunate to be supported by the community,” Finance Director Helen “Ruthie” Davis said.

As the official Oct. 1 head count of students for state funding nears, Milton and Davis said, they are cautiously optimistic that enrollment will show a small increase, 30 or more students, than were enrolled Oct. 1, 2012.

Each additional student amounts to about $5,000 more a year in state funding.

Each year, West Feliciana has to surrender $500,000 of its state funds to repay overpayments the state Department of Education said were made years ago to West Feliciana and a small group of other parishes.

The repayment schedule ends in 2017, Davis said.

For the first time in five years, the Legislature appropriated a 2.75 percent increase in MFP funding to help cover rising health care and retirement costs, but half of the money, about $86,000 in West Feliciana, must be given to teachers.

Davis said teachers will be given an extra $360 in their December pay check.

Reaching a balanced budget required some sacrifices, however. The board froze salaries earlier this year, eliminated sabbatical leaves, reduced staff, dropped an auto mechanics class and made program changes in elementary music and physical education.