BAKER — Although the Baker school system received nearly $850,000 less in state funding than projected in its original 2015-16 budget, the district will still end the year $233,000 in the black, district business manager Sidney Stewart told the School Board on Tuesday night.
That’s a big change from the 2014-15 school year, when the district ended $908,000 in the red.
The 2015-16 revised budget of $14.3 million reflects an excess of $1.1 million of revenues over expenses, in part due to aggressive cuts, including staff and teacher layoffs, instituted by Superintendent Herman Brister during his first year as head of Baker schools.
Some of the decrease in state funding was caused by budget cuts at the state level, especially to Supplemental Course Academy funds, which is special Minimum Foundation Program money targeted to programs for high school and middle school students.
The system also lost MFP funds because of declining enrollment. In October, there were 1,459 students enrolled in Baker schools. By May, Brister reported that enrollment had dropped to 1,390.
After Tuesday’s meeting, Brister said he didn’t know why the school system had lost students during the 2015-16 school year, saying the decrease was unexpected.
Another reason MFP funds were less than projected was because tax revenues increased in the city of Baker during 2015-16, causing the state to recalculate the amount the school system should receive per student, Brister said.
The revised school system 2015-16 budget shows sales and property tax revenues were each nearly $100,000 more than projected in the original budget.
In other business, the board voted unanimously to deny a charter school application from Doors of Opportunity Technology Academy, based in Baton Rouge.
The School Board also voted unanimously to revise the percentage of employees’ health care premiums the School Board will pay.
The board had previously paid 85 percent of the premiums for employees who had worked in the system for 10 years or more. On the revised schedule, employees with 10 years of service or more will have approximately 51 percent of their premiums paid. The amounts paid for employees with fewer years of service was similarly adjusted.
Employees hired on or before July 1, 2006, and those who have already retired will not be affected by the revised schedule.
And following a public meeting during which there was no discussion, the School Board agreed to “roll forward” the property tax for the school system from the previous rate of 4.7 mills to 5 mills and the special school maintenance millage from 36 mills to 38.2 mills. Public bodies can vote to “roll forward” property taxes when assessed value goes down, or “roll back” property taxes when those values increase.