Final adjustments in the St. Martin School Board’s budgets for the fiscal year ending June 30 show that the general fund and sales tax accounts are expecting healthy surpluses.
Board members approved revised operating budgets last week during their final meeting of the 2007-08 fiscal year.
The general fund’s ending balance is expected to increase from the adjusted beginning balance of $15.19 million last July to $16,453,464 by June 30.
And Sales Tax No. 1 (first levied in 1965) will see its surplus grow from $3.59 million to $3,907,295, while the surplus in Sales Tax No. 2 (first levied in 1990) increased from $4.17 million to $4,883,245.
Collections from the two one-cent sales taxes are expected to total $12,101,436 for fiscal year 2007-08 while expenditures are set at $11,065,292.
In a related matter, the board approved the schedule for sales tax salary supplements for employees during the next fiscal year.
The issue generated a bit of spirited debate, with board member Floyd Knott contending that the new schedule — which projects a 12-month total of $6,500 in supplements for all professional employees and $5,080 for paraprofessionals — is actually a reduction from the amount paid during 2007-08.
The 2007-08 budget had projected total supplements of $6,470 for professionals and $5,049 for paraprofessionals. But Knott convinced the board at its December 2007 meeting to increase that month’s supplement for professionals from $500 to $1,000 and for paraprofessionals from $357 to $714, increasing the annual amount for professionals to $6,970 and $5,406 for paraprofessionals.
Knott opposed the 2008-09 schedule, arguing that it reflected a reduction of $470 from the amount paid in 2007-08 while the sales tax funds enjoyed big surpluses.
Board member Mark Hebert suggested that the board give some thought to funding more teacher positions rather than granting teacher pay hikes in the future in order to lower the teacher/pupil ratio in parish classrooms.
Board CFO Emile Soulier explained after the meeting that the budgeted schedule actually increases the professional amount by $30 over the 2007-08 budget, with paraprofessionals getting $31 more that was originally budgeted.
The schedule for 2008-09 sets a fixed amount for every month, with the exception of November and June, while the amounts have varied substantially from month to month in recent years.
Superintendent Richard Lavergne said the change was made after a survey of employees indicated they preferred a more consistent monthly supplement.
As approved last week, all professional employees can expect to receive $450 per month except for November and June, when the supplement will be increased to $1,000. Paraprofessionals will get $365 per month and $715 in November and June.
The total payout for the year will be approximately $6.5 million.
In another salary matter, the board went along with a recommendation by Lavergne that will put more money in the pockets of the parish’s three high school principals.
After meeting with the principals, Lavergne proposed that they move from 10½ months of employment to 11 months, resulting in a salary hike of roughly $2,430 per principal, depending on the school’s enrollment, or an annual cost of approximately $7,300 to the system.
Board members Richard Potier and Frederic Stelly opposed the change, with Potier arguing that high school guidance counselors also deserved more pay.