Avoyelles School Board ends fiscal year with $600,000 surplus

Teachers, administrators, support personnel to get one-time supplement

Teachers, administrators and support personnel will receive a one-time pay supplement this year, due to the Avoyelles School Board ending the budget year with a $600,526 surplus.

Board members received the good news at their Sept. 3 meeting and promptly approved spending $568,000 to reward school employees who worked last year, returned to the school district this year or retired at the end of last school year.

Teachers and administrators were given a $1,000 supplement while support personnel will receive a $500 supplement. Employees who started working for the school district later in the year could receive smaller supplements.

This supplement is in addition to the annual sales tax supplement school district employees receive in November.

“Employees have worked hard over the past few years and haven’t received a pay raise,” APSD Superintendent Blaine Dauzat said. “This isn’t a pay raise, but is a supplement that will be a help to the employees.”

Dauzat said Avoyelles Parish teachers are the lowest paid in the state. APSD support personnel are also one of the lowest paid in the state.

“Thanks to our efforts at being ‘thrifty’ and also some unexpected revenues, we actually ended the 2017-18 fiscal year with a small surplus,” Dauzat said. “I can think of no better way to use that surplus than to give everyone a little extra and our School Board agrees.”

Dauzat said the additional supplement out of the unanticipated surplus is a way the School Board can reward the employees for their hard work last year. It also thanks them for their loyalty in returning to the school system for the 2018-19 school year, even though they could make more in another school system.

“They deserve this,” Dauzat told board members. “I just wish we could make it part of their salary where they could get it from now on. For right now, we will have to take it year-to-year.”

Marksville High Principal Liza Jacobs expressed appreciation for the board’s action.

“This will show the teachers and staff that they are valued by the School Board,” Jacobs said. “I want to thank you for showing support.”

For the past three years the school system had projected over a $1 million deficit each year. In the previous two years, the budget was almost balanced at the end of the fiscal year, but had small deficits.

This past year it ended with a small surplus.

The board is currently projecting a $1.6 million deficit for the current budget year.

Finance Director Mary Bonnette said her budgets have been conservative over the years. That, combined with cost savings, has allowed the budgets to come in near balanced and, this past year, with a small surplus.

The final figures for the 2017-18 budget were not known until August. A large portion of the budget is spent in June just before the next budget year starts on July 1.

After the June figures were totaled, the year-end budget was found to have a surplus.

Bonnette said several budget item lines helped to create the surplus.

One was an increase in property taxes of $114,331, a $115,553 rise in sales tax collections and $72,605 more in interest revenue for $302,489 more revenue than anticipated.

Total expenditures dropped $298,037, givng the district the $600,526 surplus.

She said the 2018-19 budget is based on the April 2018 payroll and the February 2018 final enrollment figures, which are used to determine the parish’s state Minimum Foundation Program allotment.

Those figures yielded the $1.6 million budget deficit projection, but Bonnette said that shortfall could be less as the fiscal year continues.

The next major benchmark for the budget will be the Oct. 1 enrollment, which will determine the MFP allotment. That enrollment will be confirmed on Feb. 1, at which time the state adjusts the MFP funding for the district.

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