St. John schools may end year in the black

Published 12:00 am Saturday, April 23, 2011

By David Vitrano


RESERVE – With a new fiscal year approaching and many predicting another budget shortfall, St. John the Baptist Parish Schools Executive Director of Business and Finance Felix Boughton had a little good news for the School Board at Thursday’s meeting.

By his estimates, the district will finish the 2010-11 fiscal year with a small surplus because spending will be about $3 million less than originally anticipated. This is despite the fact revenue has also been lower than expected this year.

“On the expense side, we controlled everywhere we could control,” said Boughton.

Board member Russ Wise commended Boughton for “excellent fiscal management on your part” and noted the district has finished each fiscal year with a surplus for at least the past decade.

Boughton will face one more hurdle this summer when trying to come up with a balanced budget by Aug. 1. He recently learned the state has cut $135,000 in funding for school transportation under the category of non-public transportation.

“We still have to do it, and they cut the money,” said Boughton. “It’s just something else we’ve got to deal with.”

The district also announced its teachers of the year Thursday. Bridgette Oubre of Lake Pontchartrain Elementary was named the elementary teacher of the year. Oubre has been teaching in St. John Parish since 1998. The middle school teacher of the year was James Kline of West St. John High School. Kline came to the school through the Teach for America program and has been a champion of project-based learning there. Helane Chevis of East St. John High was named the high school teacher of the year. A 10th-grade English teacher, SHE has been teaching in St. John since 2006.

Support personnel of the year were also recognized Thursday. Evella Brown, Cleona Bethancourt and Joseph Williams were named the elementary, middle and high school support personnel of the year, respectively.

Superintendent Courtney Millet also acknowledged the faculty, administration and staff at Lake Pontchartrain Elementary, Garyville/Mt. Airy Math and Science Magnet and East St. John Elementary for being recognized as schools showing academic growth by the state Department of Education. In letters from state Superintendent Paul Pastorek, both LPE and GMMS were commended for showing “exemplary academic growth” while ESJE was commended for showing “recognized academic growth.”