Tangipahoa school system facing 2013-14 budget shortfall

The Tangipahoa Parish school system is projecting a $9.3 million shortfall for 2013-14 that would drive the district’s general fund balance below 1 percent of total expenditures, the district’s chief financial officer said Tuesday.

School Board policy mandates a minimum general fund balance of 7 percent of total expenditures, Chief Financial Officer Bret Schnadelbach said.

The district projects $127.4 million in general fund revenue for 2013-14, while general fund expenses are projected at $136.7 million, according to documents Schnadelbach provided the School Board’s Finance Committee on Tuesday.

The revenues include an estimated $420,000 decrease in state Minimum Foundation Program funds, as well as a year-over-year loss of $650,000 in one-time 16th Section proceeds and $550,000 in one-time Medicaid reimbursement funds transferred into the general fund for the 2012-13 budget, Schnadelbach said.

Expenditures are projected to grow by $1.9 million due to increases in mandated retirement contributions, by $1.2 million for the inclusion of step raises that have been suspended the past two years and by more than $2.1 million to sustain the Hammond-area school magnet programs if voters do not approve a tax for that purpose on May 4, he said.

With an estimated general fund balance of $9.6 million going into 2013-14, the projected deficit would leave less than $300,000 — or 0.21 percent of total revenues — in the fund, according to figures Schnadelbach provided.

Superintendent Mark Kolwe said a second proposition on the May 4 ballot to rededicate an existing 1-cent sales tax would provide more flexibility for the district to direct funding where it is needed and to prop up the general fund budget.

“The rededication, along with passage of the magnet tax, would make our job much, much easier to accomplish,” Kolwe said. “Otherwise, we’ve got some very tough decisions ahead.”

He said the system has been “cut to the bone already.”