OPELOUSAS — St. Landry School Board member Albert Hayes complained about the high costs of student activity fees before casting the only negative vote Thursday for the general fund budget that reflects a $7 million surplus.
Hayes, in his first term as one of three board members representing the Eunice area, said he has received a large number of postings on his Facebook page from parents.
“Some parents say that these fees are rising to as much as $400,” Hayes said.
Activity fees at most schools include costs for student handbooks, identification badges and pictures.
Before voting to approve the budget, Hayes asked Finance Director Tressa Miller to provide at a later date a breakdown on how much each school collects in activity fees.
Hayes said he also is concerned that parents who have contacted him about the activity fee costs are generally poor and are taking out loans from companies that charge them high interest.
The board held a special meeting Monday to discuss the general fund budget and then recommend its ratification at Thursday’s meeting.
Hayes was absent from Monday’s meeting, along with board members Charles Ross, Donnie Perron and Randy Wagley.
At Thursday’s meeting, board member Raymond Cassimere complimented Miller for her explanation of the budget on Monday.
“Providing a detailed budget like we were shown is something that we haven’t had in the past,” Cassimere said. “It gives us something that we can take out, look at and then show to our constituents.”
Miller said the general fund budget for the fiscal year that began July 1 is, in her opinion, still “a breakeven budget.”
Ross said with the size of the school system’s total $140 million budget, the board should require a surplus of at least $5 million.
She told Ross that she would like to see an $8.5 million surplus by June 30, the end of the current fiscal year.
In another matter, the board voted 7-6 to advertise for a director of Title I, a program for special education students funded primarily with federal dollars.
The board several months ago accepted the retirement of longtime Title I director Cliff Carmon.
Superintendent Edward Brown told the board at last month’s meeting that he would like to see the position downgraded to a supervisor’s position in order to save about $2,500 annually in salary costs.
Last week, a committee recommended Brown’s request to have the position made a supervisor’s job, but the full board decided to leave it as a director position.
Voting to have the position remain a director’s job were Ross, Milton Ambres, Hazel Sias, Mary Ellen Donatto, Anthony Standberry, Cassimere and Hayes.
Those voting for a supervisor were Roger Young, Huey Wyble, Kyle Boss, Wagley, Perron and Candace Gerace.
Brown, in another matter, said 14,274 students have enrolled in district schools since Aug. 13. He said that number is down by about 200 students from last year.
“I don’t know why so many students have decided to wait until after Labor Day to attend school,” Brown said. “I do think we are going to get those (200 students) back.”