GREENSBURG — The St. Helena Parish School Board will run a reduced deficit of just under $300,000 in 2012-13, down from $1.4 million last year, according to a budget approved Thursday night.
Hurricane Isaac played havoc with the School Board’s schedule for advertising and approving the budget, Superintendent Kelli Joseph said.
An Aug. 30 finance committee meeting to recommend approval and advertisement of the budget had to be cancelled because of the storm and rescheduled for Sept. 6. That set the advertisement period back from the 10 days legally required to only nine days before the Sept. 15 filing deadline, Joseph said.
“Everything else about the budget was absolutely in compliance. We just want to be transparent about this,” she said. “And it’s not because of anything we did. It’s just because of the storm.”
The $5.1 million general fund budget includes a $297,967 deficit, which will drop the general fund balance to $905,336 at year-end, Finance Supervisor Amy Holland said.
The school system is using carry-over funds from previous years to cover the gap between revenues and expenditures expected for 2012-13.
“We’re still not in the clear,” Joseph said. “There’s still more to cut, but we’re in a better financial situation than we were a year ago.”
“And we’re still functioning as a school system,” board member Virginia Bell said.
Factors leading to the reduction in the deficit included the elimination of some nonteaching positions, renegotiation of supervisor pay, reorganization of Central Office staff, reduction in travel and supply costs and a one-year deal with the St. Helena Parish chapter of the Louisiana Association of Educators for two unpaid work days and a reduction in the district’s contribution rate toward employee health insurance.
In other business, Joseph told the School Board that a review team with the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, a regional accreditation agency for an 11-state region including Louisiana, will be on campus at St. Helena schools Oct. 21-23.
The five-member team will spend 20 minutes in every classroom at each school to observe teachers in action, she said.
“This is about how well our teachers instruct our students, how active and engaging the lessons are and how we operate our district,” Joseph said. “I have made it clear to everyone that we want to earn ‘highly functional’ on every level because this will bring distinction and honor to our district and our parish.”
The best districts in the state are district-accredited, and St. Helena wants to be among that group, Joseph said.