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School system budget shows decrease from ’98

STACEY PLAISANCE / L’Observateur / August 31, 1998

HAHNVILLE – The St. Charles Parish School Board approved its Interim1999 Budget Report Wednesday. It was submitted balanced with priorityon instructional expenditures, and it included all items promised to the public, Superintendent Rodney Lafon said.

The report showed a $351,000 decrease in the General Budget from last year’s figures, the result of a decrease in projected sales tax collections and an increase in teachers’ salaries.

Lafon said the teacher pay raises granted by the state greatly impacted the budget, but it still includes all of the items promised to the public during the May 1997 millage renewal, including the additional teachers and continued implementation of the technology plan.

“We are also able to continue implementing the recommendations from the transportation audit by including the purchase of 10 additional buses in the budget,” the report states.

“We’ve held true to what we promised the public,” Lafon said.

Lafon pointed out in the committee meeting preceding Wednesday’s regular meeting that the 1998 budget figures show an instructional percentage of 72.5 percent, while the 1999 budget reflects 73.35 percent devoted toinstruction.

“We’re definitely making improvements in the budget for increasing funds in the area of instruction,” Lafon said. “But the outcome of the budgetgreatly depends on the state. They can make a big difference in whathappens to St. Charles Parish Schools in the future.”It was stated in the budget report that, “We will be very dependent on the outcome of the two state agencies, the BESE Board and the State Tax Commission. These two agencies control a large portion of the revenues ofthe school system.”A $25,049 decrease in federal funding was noted in the budget, and the amount of outstanding bonds in Dept Service Funds on June 30, 1998 totaled $30,838,000. It was also noted that by the end of the 1999 fiscalyear, most of the projects associated with the Capital Projects Fund bond issue will be nearing completion. Therefore, the projected ending balanceis $275,500.

The Lunch Fund will have little change in both revenue and expenditure.

In other business, the board: Heard a presentation by concerned citizen Lionel Webre, who addressed questionable practices by the Transportation Department. Webre citedviolations and infractions of public safety noted by the Office of State Police Safety Enforcement on several school buses. Ten St. Charles Schoolbuses were randomly selected for inspection by state police officers over the course of the summer, and Webre questioned the legitimacy of the inspection stickers on the buses.

“The Department of Public Safety puts inspection stickers on buses not at par with safety standards,” Webre said. Transportation DepartmentCoordinator Gary Martin said there are different interpretations of safety regulations for the buses, and that the department has received no notification of any need for changes to the buses.

“We receive nothing from BESE saying we need to make changes on these buses,” Martin said. “Our buses are safe. I stand behind them 100 percent.” Approved the revision for Hospital/Homebound Placement and addition for Student Specific Aide Eligibility. This revision was approved by theboard since there is no direction from the State Department of Education on eligibility for homebound and student aide services.

Authorized the superintendent, board president and comptroller to sign the Systems Survey & Compliance Questionnaire, FY99, as a complete disclosure of the district’s financial operations is mandated.

Approved the second reading of the Pupil Progression Plan which addresses the procedures for early graduation. The early graduation noticestates that, “Students who have earned the required Carnegie units and passed all five components of the Graduation Exit Exam are eligible to receive a state diploma and participate in the next scheduled commencement exercise. Students who are classified juniors and areeligible for graduation will be allowed to take exams with seniors.

Parents must notify the principal in writing of anticipated early completion of requirements by Dec. 31 of current school year.” Approved expenditures of public funds under its jurisdiction for the month of July 1998, totaling $786,696.19. Moved to accept the renovations at Carver Elementary as being substantially complete. The renovation project expenses total $215,910from Capital funds.

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