Livingston school officials predict general fund deficit

The Livingston Parish school system is projecting an initial $2.6 million deficit in its general fund budget for the 2013-14 school year.

The School Board’s budget and goals committee approved the system’s initial 2013-14 budget Tuesday night.

The budget will go before the full board Sept. 5.

Budgets are revised around the school year’s halfway point and again at the end of the year, Superintendent John Watson said.

The school system initially forecast a $4.7 million deficit when budget drafting began in the spring, Watson said.

“Once they start going back through and closing out each account, what we projected to have to spend on that account or what we projected for revenues for those accounts changes,” he said.

Watson said the initial budget predicts no growth in sales tax revenue, but he said school system officials expect growth of about 1.5 percent to 2 percent later in the year.

The initial budget also projects no increase in student attendance, but Watson said the system likely will have about 300 more students this year than a year ago.

The state will give the parish about $6,000 per student in Minimum Foundation Program funding this year, so an additional 300 students would bring another $1.8 million in MFP money, Watson said.

MFP money is state funding to public schools that goes to instructional purposes.

The school system expects to take in about $183.8 million in revenue this school year, at least $153 million of which will be generated from state funding.

Meanwhile, expenditures are expected to reach about $186.5 million, the bulk of which will go to instructional programs.

That leaves the school system with a $2,638,083 deficit and an ending fund balance of $11.3 million.

Revenue is up about $3.3 million from the school system’s final 2012-13 budget, while expenditures went up about $6.3 million.

The business manager for the school system, Terry Hughes, attributed part of the expenditure increase to a projected $1 million in expenses for step increases and an extra $500,000 added for buses and transportation.

Hughes also pointed out a $200,000 increase in retiree and health expenses for a large number of retirees last year and an added $235,000 to the system’s technology budget.

Livingston also is expecting about a $2.6 million increase in money as a result of an increase in public school funding from the 2013 legislative session.

Those dollars are already included in the budget.