Board gets good financial news

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Carolyn Roy | News Editor

There was great financial news at the school board committee meeting Tuesday. Director of Finance Lee Waskom said the general fund should end the past financial year with a balance of $2.5 – $3.7 million, depending on entries that have not been posted. The surplus will go into reserves that should be about $10 million. While the budget year ended May 31, there are grants and reimbursements that are not posted, such as $3.7 million in receivables.

This article published in the Aug. 7, 2021, print edition
Motel 6

Waskom was excited to give the school board that good news but is frustrated with the current computer program that calculates on a cash rather than accrual basis. An example is that the accounting department must pay up front for grant expenses resulting in a deficit. The grant revenue cannot be posted until the school board is reimbursed. He described the system as slow, frustrating and unreliable. His other good news is that the sales tax collections for June were up 21 percent over last year.

One of the most important items on the agenda was the adoption of two resolutions at the Thursday meeting calling for the election to renew the BRE funds in districts 8 and 10. Those are maintenance funds for the schools at Provencal and Marthaville respectively. One resolution calls for the election to be Saturday, Nov. 13.

Child Nutrition District Manager Shauna Hicks expects to be reimbursed $247,000 by USDA in late August. Equipment for the next school year has been ordered and her budget ended with a positive balance.

The contract with EpicTouch to install broadband cable has not been signed because it is being reviewed by the school board’s legal firm.

David Kees reported to the board on a FICA replacement plan for uncertified teachers. It is a retirement plan under which uncertified teachers can get back their contributions if they leave the school system. They will be allowed to choose from a number of financial plans in which they want the money invested. Eloi said the action to find such a plan came after six uncertified teachers requested it last year. He said one of the most important parts of the plan is that there will be no change in the employees’ take home pay. The board adopted the plan with Emile Metoyer and Regine Bell voting against it.

Attorney Joe Stamey said the donation of the Cloutierville School to Fire District #1 has not been finalized. There are questions about funding and how the fire district will maintain the buildings. There will be a meeting between the principals Aug. 10.

Negotiations about a parking lot on Parkway next to the bus facility are expected to be resolved next week.

The board approved three new positions that will be paid by grants at the request of Cassaundra Anderson, supervisor of migrant and early childhood. They are a 12-month position for early childhood education family and community engagement coordinator; nine-month early childhood community outreach liaison; and 12-month office secretary for the early childhood coordinator. The grants have generated over half a million dollars for at least three years.

The board will again support a Rapides Effective Schools Grant to support successful math students from K-eighth grades.

District Maintenance Coordinator Ryan Shirley said there are “a lot of gym floors” in the parish and his report detailed jobs in every school and in the Central Office to get ready before school starts. Shirley can move forward with a program named Fastenal Vending Solutions for a Keep Stock Program. It includes a machine at each school that furnishes standard maintenance items and will cut down on time traveling to schools. He also has a new system for work orders that is cloud based, has a preventive maintenance program, will allow asset and inventory management and can be accessed from computer, laptop, phone or iPad.

The board accepted the bid of $40,219 for security cameras at M.R. Weaver, $36,787 for Natchitoches Magnet and $59,512 for Natchitoches Jr. High. The winning bids were from A&G Computer Services. The cameras are manufactured in the United States and will be connected to a private, locked server. The board approved moving forward to find a cell phone app that can be used for district-wide communication for school events rather than robo calls.

The board is awaiting proposals from John Winston and Sylvia Morrow about what their respective organizations would do with the Pre-School Center on Martin Luther King Jr. Drive. Metoyer said the school is an eyesore as well as a liability because of its condition. He wants the board to get an estimate on how much it would cost to demolish the building.