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|School board amends 2007-08 budget; iLEAP test scores improve in three grades|
Ouachita Parish Schools will have a fund balance of $16.6 million in its general fund at the end of June due to anticipated higher expenditures over revenues.
The school board's 2007-08 fiscal year ends June 30.
Expenditures in the general fund will exceed revenues by $4.2 million, according to school board business manager Richie Garrett.
The current fiscal year's budget was adopted in September. The school board made its final revision to this year's budget during its regular meeting Tuesday.
"Back in September we decided that the fund balance in the general fund was a little more than what we wanted to carry, so we adopted the budget and reduced the balance by about $3 million," Garrett said. "This revised budget reduces it a little more to around $4.2 million."
Expenditures rose throughout the year due primarily to an increase in salaries and related benefits, which increased by $3.4 million.
Salaries increased by $1.9 million due to the addition of more teachers to reduce the student-to-teacher ratio.
The school board decided in September that since it had a healthy fund balance, it would spend more in the classrooms by adding teachers and curriculum coordinators to help improve standardized test scores.
Superintendent Dr. Bob Webber said so far that move had paid off.
Ouachita Parish 9th grade students jumped from 11th in the state last year to second this year in iLEAP test rankings, Webber said. Seventh graders moved from 9th in the state to second; and 8th graders taking the iLEAP test moved from 10th to fifth.
"I feel like, and I think our middle and high school principals feel like, the curriculum coordinators helped tremendously with the teachers," Webber said.
Another positive, Garrett said, was fund balance in the West Ouachita Sales Tax Fund, which pays for the West Bond District construction costs. It should increase by $500,000 or five percent for the year.
"That's real positive for that fund considering the construction cost and all," Garrett said. "We have been kind of protecting this fund because last year the funds were kind of depleted and we've been trying to build this fund back up so that we can pay for construction costs in the future."
"I'm anticipating one more year of not using this fund and we should be back so we can start construction out of this fund," Garrett continued. "That's how we've had it planned, so we're pretty much right on schedule."
Webber said school officials have been meeting routinely to look at how the system can reduce its expenditures.
He said the school system doesn't plan to add any additional administration positions this year and school officials don't anticipate anyone retiring.