OPELOUSAS — Although the St. Landry Parish school system’s finances are “in good shape” at present, school officials need to remain vigilant and not overspend, Finance Director Tressa Miller said Thursday.
Four years ago, the School Board was facing a $4 million deficit and declared a state of exigency, or fiscal emergency, and had to cut workers, mainly from the maintenance department, and cut back on expenses at the central office and school sites.
Matters have improved since then, but revenues from state, federal and parishwide sources fluctuate each year, Miller said, making planning somewhat difficult.
For instance, a financial report that the School Board approved Thursday shows the inconsistencies from year to year from state Minimum Foundation Program funding. MFP revenues are primarily based on student enrollment.
Miller said St. Landry received $78.034 million in MFP money in 2011-13. Last year, the district received $77.6 million.
As for expenses, 88 percent, or $108.6 million, of the district’s $124.46 million in 2013-14 expenses involved employee salaries and benefits.
Nevertheless, salary expenses have declined over the last three fiscal years.
In another matter, the board also approved without opposition a committee recommendation to hire Poche, Prouet and Associates to prepare a cost replacement analysis of existing campus buildings at 37 school sites.
Assistant Superintendent Joseph Cassimere, who oversees district maintenance projects, said in an interview that that survey is being done mainly for insurance purposes.
“We will be able to see what it will cost to replace some of our buildings in case of storms, fires or some other tragedy. It will also give our principals a detailed map of the buildings and the approximate replacement costs,” he said.