Baker school system reveals food service deficit

The city’s school system ran a $288,600 deficit in its food service program during the 2012-13 school year.

District Business Manager Sidney Stewart also said the school system had a $70,000 food service deficit during the 2011-2012 school year.

School Board President Elaine Davis said the district fed HeadStart students for five years without being reimbursed.

Superintendent Ulysses Joseph said East Baton Rouge city-parish government is in the process of refunding the school system for the past year of service, but the payments can only be made $17,000 at a time.

He added that the district cannot be reimbursed for the other four years because too much time has passed.

In a related matter, the board voted 4-1 to hire accounting firm Postlethwaite & Netterville to conduct a financial audit of the school system for 2012-2013 at a cost of $46,0000.

Board members Davis, Troy Watson, Shona Boxie and Dana Carpenter voted in favor of the move. Doris Alexander voted cast the dissenting vote.

Alexander suggested asking certified public accountant Mary Sue Staples to do the job. The motion died for lack of a second.

Staples conducted the 2010-2011 audit for $21,000 and offered to perform the 2011-2012 one for the same fee, but at that time the board voted to hire Postlethwaite & Netterville for $43,500. Postlethwaite & Netterville later asked for $10,000 more to complete the audit.

In other business Tuesday, the council discussed the following items:

LAWN MAINTENANCE: In a split vote, the board approved a description of a new position for a “Lawn Care Groundskeeper and Maintenance Generalist.”

Board members Troy Watson, Shona Boxie, Dana Carpenter and Elaine Davis voted to adopt the description. Alexander cast the dissenting vote.

Alexander questioned whether hiring the new employees was cost effective.

In March, the board canceled its $59,520 contract with David Mahler of H&O Enterprises effective June 30.

Joseph said that “two or two and a half” groundskeepers will be hired at an undisclosed salary.

SCHOOL BOARD OFFICES: The board discussed the Graves Building on Plank and Groom Road and the old Albertsons office building in the Plank Crossing Shopping Center as possible locations for new central offices for the school system.

Clay Slagle of Volkert Engineering told the board that building a new 13,000 square foot office building would cost approximately $2 million.

The school board’s lease on the Whitney Bank building on Ray Weiland Dr. ends April 1, 2014.

SCHOOL BUSES: The board voted 4-1 to send five school buses to state surplus. Board members Watson, Boxie, Carpenter and Davis voted in favor. Alexander opposed the move.

Alexander suggested sending the buses to the Baker Fire Department, which would use them for training.

Joseph said the state will sell the buses and give the school system a portion of the profit.