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|OPSB to entertain $180 million spending plan|
The Ouachita Parish School Board will consider a $180-million budget for the 2008-09 fiscal year when the school board meets in early September.
Richie Garrett, business manager for Ouachita Parish Schools, currently is in the process of completing the school system's proposed spending plan for the new fiscal year, which must be adopted before Sept. 15. The school board will review Garrett's proposed budget at its Sept. 9 meeting.
Garrett said the budget for the new fiscal year will be tight in light of soaring fuel and energy costs.
"We ran a deficit last year … spent more than we brought in, so I've got to account for that," Garrett said. "And, also I've got to account for the rising cost of gas and fuel and utilities. Plus we're buying more textbooks, so it's going to be really tough to balance it this year.
In April, as gas prices reached all-time highs, the school system began paying about $25,000 per week for fuel. Last year around this time, the school system paid a little more than $15,000 per week for fuel.
For the 2008-09 fiscal year budget, Garrett has allocated $25,000 to $28,000 a week for fuel costs.
The proposed budget also includes an additional $500,000 for the school system to buy new text books for all students.
"They (school board) decided to go ahead and increase that amount," Garrett said. "We spent $1.6 million last year (on textbooks) and this year we've got about a half a million dollars more than what we did last year."
The school system has already ordered these textbooks since the books must be available at the start of school, Garrett said. Parish school students returned to class Monday.
"The books are getting more and more expensive, and last year's amount was not going to cover it," Garrett said.
Without additional funding, the school board would only have enough books for classroom use, according to Garrett. Students would not have been able to take textbooks home since some children wouldn't have one.
"Total expenditures will be close to $180 million, and probably my revenue and expenditures will be the same," Garrett said. "That's what I'm shooting for. I'm hoping my expenditures are not more than my revenue."
According to Superintendent Dr. Bob Webber, the parish school system's general fund should have a balance of $17 million-$18 million at the end of the 2008-09 fiscal year.
A public hearing will be held 5 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 9, to allow for the public to comment on the budget before it is presented to the school board.