DONALDSONVILLE — The Ascension Parish School Board got impressive feedback from the state Department of Education on the district’s financial risk assessment for the 2014-15 fiscal year.
The state agency looks at every school district in the state and measures it on such criteria as growth in public school enrollment, what percentage of teachers might be close to retirement and what kind of growth the district is having in sales taxes and property taxes.
“It’s a stellar report,” said Diane Allison, director of the school district’s business services department, at the finance and curriculum committee meeting Tuesday.
The State Department of Education found favorable external factors for the Ascension Parish school district, such as an 8.6 percent growth in public school enrollment over the last five years and an increase of more than 34 percent in property tax and sales tax revenue over the last five years.
“Ascension is growing in leaps and bounds,” Allison said.
The percentage of nonpublic school enrollment in the Ascension School District is also small, compared to total enrollment, at 6.5 percent, the report from the state says.
Also in the school district’s favor is the percentage of teachers with more than 15 years’ experience. The state is looking, ideally, for a figure at less than 45 percent and, in Ascension Parish, the number of longtime teachers is 26.5 percent.
If a school district has a large proportion of its teachers close to retirement, that means a drain of “brain power” for the system, as well as increased costs related to retirement, Allison said.
The school district has had no deficit spending out of its general fund for three years, the report also says.
The state Department of Education deems a general fund balance as a percentage of general fund revenues to be excellent at 7.5 percent or higher. The district’s number in that category is 30.26 percent.