St. Mary Parish School Board gets clean audit
Supt. Donald Aguillard
The St. Mary Parish School Board received an “unmodified clean opinion,” the highest ranking it can receive, from its independent auditor Thursday.
In total, the school board saw $100 million in revenues and spent slightly over $101 million, for a loss of $1.7 million made up from its reserve fund balance during the fiscal year that ended June 30, according to auditor Chris Miller of Darnall, Sikes, Gardes & Frederick.
Of the revenue received, 40 percent of the total was locally generated through ad valorem and sales taxes.
In the general fund, the school system’s largest account, total revenues were $78.63 million, down from $79.8 million the previous year, for a $1.18 million loss. Miller said this was comprised of small increases in ad valorem and sales tax collections, but a $1.73 million (4 percent) decrease in state Minimum Foundation Program money between the 2012 and 2013 fiscal years.
On the expenditure side, costs were reduced by roughly $570,000 between the two years. The bulk of that reduction, according to Miller, came from a reduction in teachers. Regular instruction teacher salary costs were reduced roughly $1.1 million or 3 percent, while special education program teacher costs dropped $569,355 or 5 percent.
A portion of those savings was offset by a 21 percent or $745,000 increase in student transportation costs, attributed primarily to the purchase of six new school buses, Miller said.
School Board Chief Financial Officer Alton Perry requested, and the board approved, a reduction in designated dollars in the general fund. While the school system has roughly $36 million in reserve funds, much of that money has been designated for specific future uses by the school board.
In this case, Perry asked that the $1 million set aside for self-insurance against workers compensation loss be reduced to $500,000. He said the school system has settled several long-standing, high-dollar claims, so the need for funds has been reduced.
In other action Thursday, the board:
—Received the School Activity Funds Principles and Procedures Manual for review. Perry clarified that the manual was not in response to fraudulent activity discovered in the past year, but was merely an update of a policy already in place prior to the fraud.
—Approved a Maintenance District III request to move $75,000 from its maintenance to capital funds in response to a bid for the construction of a new Morgan City High School library. The bid for the project plus all three alternates of new restrooms, a chiller replacement and a fire alarm update, came in $66,000 over the previously budgeted amount at $3.55 million. Bonneval Construction in Patterson will build the project scheduled for completion in July 2014.
—Passed a resolution to join St. John the Baptist Parish School Board in a lawsuit against the state for recovery of Minimum Foundation Program funds that the school systems claim were not increased properly for the 2012-13 school year after the original formula used by the state for that year was ruled null and void by the Louisiana Supreme Court.
—Learned that for the first six months of the health insurance year, the school system paid $6.2 million in premiums versus $4.7 million in claims, for a 76 percent loss ratio. This is the best start for a fiscal year since the board’s insurance consultant James Perez began keeping their records in 2007. The lower loss ratio, if it can be maintained, will keep renewal costs down, he said.