OPELOUSAS – The St. Landry Parish School Board was told during a special meeting on Thursday that the district anticipates a $3 million deficit by the end of the 2015-16 fiscal year.
Although discussion of the budget was not an item on the meeting agenda, finance director Tressa Miller discussed the district’s financial situation when she told the board that state funding for an annual teaching supplement for this school year would be reduced 20 percent to $432,000.
When asked by several board members if there is enough district funding to give teachers the full supplement — which would cost $542,000 — Miller said that she expects St. Landry Parish to experience the $3 million deficit by June 30, the end of the district’s fiscal year.
The board then voted 11-0 to approve the supplement reduction and that future supplements to teachers would be based on the amount the state allocates to the district.
Miller said in an interview that the teachers will receive the state supplement in their May paychecks. She requested that the principals of each school inform the teachers that their supplements will be less than expected due to cuts in state funding.
The district’s funding difficulties, Miller said, are due to a $1.1 million loss in Minimum Foundation Program revenue and higher-than-expected insurance costs.
Miller said the loss in MFP funding, which is based on a state formula for financing each student during a school year, was due to a reduction in anticipated student enrollment.
Miller declined to detail how many students actually enrolled in district schools this year.
She said that the district’s insurance costs increased perhaps because of the Affordable Care Act.
“You had more employees adding family members because of that, so our health care costs also rose,” said Miller.
St. Landry Parish experienced a similar budget crisis in in July 2011 when the district declared a financial exigency or emergency after Miller predicted a $4 million deficit.
Several months later, Superintendent Mike Nassif resigned and in 2012 the board saved money mainly by reducing maintenance costs.
Since then, the district has finished the fiscal year with budget surpluses.
In an interview on Thursday, Superintendent Edward Brown said he and other school officials spent about 90 minutes earlier in the day discussing financial issues.
Miller said she told the board’s Finance Committee about this year’s possible deficit, but no action was taken on the matter, and it was not discussed at last week’s regular meeting.
Brown said he is concerned about the amount of money the district is spending on substitute teachers.
The board’s committees are scheduled to meet again on Monday, Miller said.
Brown said that he and his central office advisers are devising ways to deal with the projected deficit and their proposals will be presented at the June regular meeting.
In another matter, the board listened to representatives from three companies who made separate presentations about how to save money on energy costs.