School board accepts first budget revision _lowres

Advocate staff photo by STACY GILL -- Kenneth Mackie, Sharon Samuel, Dawn Avants and Scott Swilley, from left, presided over their last school board meeting Dec. 16, also the last meeting of the year for the Zachary Community School District. New members will be sworn in Jan. 6 at the first school board meeting of the new year.

The Zachary Community School Board met Dec. 16 for its final meeting of the year.

Board members accepted the first revision to the 2014-15 budget, which now shows a deficit in operating transfers of $6,917,167.

At a Nov. 11 finance committee meeting, board members received binders containing information for the 2014-15 school year that included the district’s current budget and budget history. A summary of the revision indicated changes to the general fund in the areas of salary and benefits, academics, business, operations, construction and technology.

Gordon Robertson, who oversees the district’s financial matters, informed the committee of property and fleet insurance increases, and Patrick Jenkins, director of operations, reviewed costs associated with energy usage and transportation, including bus needs.

“This is just a snapshot of what’s going on,” Williams said. “Some things can be estimated, but until we actually get some things in hand and done, only then can a budget be revised.” The largest revision amounts were in the areas of construction ($5 million) and technology ($630,000). The total budget revision amount approved by the board Tuesday was $5,701,296 for a total fund balance of $12,018,608.

Robertson said a second revision is expected to be introduced to the committee in the spring once more solid figures are in on Minimum Foundation Program and property and sales tax revenue.

In other school district news, board members adopted a revised salary schedule for 2014-15 for National Board-certified teachers.

State law mandates that each National Board-certified teacher receive an annual $5,000 stipend.

The Zachary school district supplements the unfunded mandates with a $1,500 bonus not required by the state, but due to budgetary streamlining, the financial perk will end for new hires as of Jan. 1.

“Those who are already receiving the additional $1,500 will continue to do so,” Williams said. “The salary revision will only apply to those hired after the first of the year.”

The district has 24 board-certified teachers.

Honors included recognizing several retirees and bidding a farewell to four members not returning in January.

Sharon Samuel, who was emotional at times during the meeting, was honored along with Scott Swilley, Kenneth Mackie and Dawn Avants.

Each received a commemorative plaque from Superintendent Scott Devillier on behalf of the school district for their years of service as board members.

Swilley, who did not seek re-election, served nine years on the board after replacing District 2’s Mark Johnson in 2005. Gwen Fuselier won Swilley’s seat in November.

Samuel spent eight years representing District 3; Mackie served three years over District 4; and Dawn Avants, who replaced former board member Donnie Dykes in January, was honored for a year of service representing District 8.

Marty Hughes and Donna Grice will replace Samuel and Mackie in Districts 3 and 4, respectively, and Ann Watkins won Avants’ seat in District 8.

New to the board is Heidi Vessel, who won the District 6 seat; former board member Beth Kimmel returns to District 7 after replacing Boyce Smith.

The six new board members will be sworn in at 7 p.m. Jan. 6 prior to the first School Board meeting of 2015.