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Public Schools finances challenged; finance committee expected to address concerns

RESERVE — Salary consideration for administrators and expenses versus revenue are expected to be discussed in detail during the next St. John the Baptist Parish Public Schools finance committee.

During Thursday’s regular meeting, little headway was made as School Board member Gerald Keller questioned Superintendent Kevin George’s spending on administrators.

The discussion did not last long and was tabled until the Board’s next finance committee meeting, which has yet to be scheduled.

Following the meeting, Keller said School District expenditures have exceeded revenue for more than three years, only to be evened out with the use of the District’s surplus.

“Because of the fiscal management of the School Board, we were able to build up a surplus, and our surplus has dwindled from $17 million to $2 million,” Keller said. “This year is crucial. Sales tax is low; property tax is low. We’ve got this STEM school that will have additional expenses added onto the general fund. There is a problem. Our surplus money has been reduced.”

Keller said the District is going to have a serious problem at the end of the academic year if expenditures are not controlled.

“I am in favor and have talked to (School Board President) Burl about this, that we need to put a freeze on administrative hiring,” Keller said.

George said one specific concern from Keller that administrator Alison Cupit’s salary is not being properly recorded is incorrect.

According to George, Cupit’s salary in the District’s special education department is not a general fund position, but instead funded by federal IDEA funds.

George said District revenue is down because of decreases in sales tax collection, property tax collection and Louisiana MFP dollars, a formula Louisiana adopts to allocate money to school districts on a per-pupil basis.