MINUTES

 

POINTE COUPEE PARISH SCHOOL BOARD

337 Napoleon Street

New Roads, LA 70760

 

SPECIAL MEETING

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

 

The Pointe Coupee Parish School Board met in a special session on Tuesday, September 14, 2010 at 337 Napoleon Street, New Roads, LA.  Mr. Chad Aguillard, President, called the meeting to order at 6:30 p.m.  

 

Board members present were Chad Aguillard, Frank R. Aguillard, Jr., Brandon Bergeron, James Cline, Debbie Collins, Kevin Hotard, and Anita LeJuene

 

The Pledge of Allegiance to the Flag of the United States of America was lead by Mr. James Cline.

 

Mrs. Debbie Collins offered the invocation.

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Discussion/Action Regarding the Purchase of the Houghton Mifflin SkillsTutor and Math Fact Fluency Program.  Superintendent D'Amico announced that she had met with Principals, and they expressed that they wanted to continue using the SkillsTutor and Math Fact Fluency online tutoring programs. The lessons and activities meet mandated state objectives and this tool helps to improve test scores.  She mentioned that the school system could possibly save $60,000 if they decided to go with the three year plan, providing a free fourth year. However, Title I cannot afford to pay the $55,780 four-year program in one year. Government Capital Corporation is a leading public finance firm that offers its clients a broad range of public financing solutions and they provide up to 100% financing, low cost, tax exempt rates, enhanced budget planning, flexible terms, efficient processing, quick funding, and deferred annual payments.  Mrs. D'Amico stated that the Board could borrow the $55,780 from Government Capital with interest, or borrow from the general fund without interest, and the money could be paid back in four annual installments. Board member Thomas Nelson requested that Superintendent D'Amico provide her recommendation to the Board.  Mrs. D'Amico stated that her recommendation is to  borrow the money from the general fund and pay the money back from Title I funds in four annual installments without interest.

 

On a motion by Mr. Thomas Nelson, seconded by Mr. Kevin Hotard, the Board voted to accept Mrs. Linda D'Amico's recommendation to borrow money from the general fund to pay for the Houghton Mifflin Skills Tutor and Math Fact Fluency program for all schools, to be paid back in four annual interest free installments.  Unanimously carried.

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Consider Adoption of the Proposed 2010-2011 General Fund Fiscal Year Operating Budget.   Superintendent D'Amico announced that the budget for the fiscal year beginning July 1, 2010 and ending June 30, 2011 has been on public review. The proposed budget is fiscally conservative and budgeted within funds available to ensure completion of the 2010-2011 school year; however the budget indicates that expenses for the fiscal year will exceed revenues by approximately $502,543,00.  This amount will be offset against the accumulated fund balance, which was $4,400,000.00 as of June 30, 2010, to balance the budget.  The budget was prepared using the modified accrual basis of accountings, and the general fund budget is presented on a "line-item" basis, listing each item of revenue and expenditure.  She mentioned that several factors have contributed to the fact that revenues are not adequate to cover the estimated expenditures.  First, sales taxes are expected to remain flat and about the same as was received during fiscal year 2009-2010, which was around a 9% decrease from fiscal year 2008-2009.  Second the MFP (state funding sources) has remained stagnant, with no increase given to the Pointe Coupee Parish School Board for fiscal year 2010-2011.  The Pointe Coupee Parish School Board will receive a total of $9.4 million from the state funding source, with another $1.3 million going to Pointe Coupee Central High School, a school being operated by Advance Baton Rouge.  Third, Ad-Valorem taxes are budgeted to be stagnant from fiscal year 2009-2010. Mrs. D'Amico mentioned that school systems are to maintain at least a 10% fund balance; this budget includes a 13% fund balance for security measures.  A public hearing was held at 5:00 p.m. to review the budget.  There were many bus drivers in attendance at the hearing because of the fuel supplement ($110,000) cut from the budget.  Superintendent D'Amico explained that this was a six-month biannual supplement figured on a sliding scale due to vendor costs, and stated that she would like to propose to add this back to the budget, thus projecting expenses exceeding revenues of $612,543,00. A discussion ensued.  Board members Anita Lejeune and Debbie Collins expressed their opinion regarding bus drivers' annual base pay of ($16,589.00 for the last twenty-five years) and they do not figure fuel and operational allowances as income.  Board member Kevin Hotard expressed his concern regarding drawing money from the reserve account, which is basically a savings account, for the budget that is based upon expenses exceeding  revenues.  Mr. Thomas Nelson stated that the Finance Committee held two meetings where discussions were held regarding the money possibly coming out of the reserve account and questioned if the Committee  tried to come to a consensus whether to recommend approval or non approval of the 2010-2011 budget, or were the meetings strictly informational?  Mr. Nelson stated that the Board can oppose or accept the Superintendent's recommendation regarding the proposed budget.  Superintendent D'Amico stated that the original proposed budget was projected expenses to exceed revenue by one-million six hundred dollars in expenditures over income, then budget excess of $ 945,000.  She mentioned that more cuts were needed; therefore, everything was considered (i.e., replacement air conditioner units), then realized that Qualified School Construction Bond money could be used, rather than general fund monies, to pay for the needed air conditions.  Finance Chairperson Kevin Hotard mentioned that the proposed budget went from a deficit of $1.6 million, to $945,000, to $502,000 and has already risen to $610,000 tonight, sales taxes are flat, and expressed his concern with the budget.  Board Member James Cline stated that he would like to make a motion to defer this item to the Finance Committee and ask them to make a recommendation whether the budget should be adopted.  Mr. Frank Aguillard stated that he will second the motion.  Mr. Kevin Hotard stated that he is one of eight School Board members, is not the Superintendent of Schools, and it is the Superintendent's job to recommend if the budget should be adopted.  Mrs. Debbie Collins stated that she is opposed to the recommendation.  Mr. Brandon Bergeron stated that he serves on the Finance Committee and does not think it is the job of the Finance Committee to micro manage the budget. He further stated that he is of the opinion that it is the Superintendent's job to make budget cuts.  Superintendent D'Amico stated that when the 2010-2011 budget discussion was started in May 2010, she mentioned that Reading First and ELFA funds were being cut by the state and asked if the Board wanted to continue these education programs that were showing success and the Board agreed to keep them.  She mentioned that Board members were told that employer retirement costs were increasing from 15.5% to 20.2% for Teachers' Retirement and from 24.73 for School Employees retirement; $252,000 in private and parochial student transportation funding was lost, and a prediction that there will be a budget deficit between $450,000 and $600,000 for the projected new fiscal year was explained.

 

Funding for National Board Certified Employees was cut by the state and the Board voted to include the supplement for the Pointe Coupee Parish School Board new employees mandated to the Board in May  Superintendent D'Amico stated that the Board had approved a budget last year that was $444,000 under revenue and was able to live under the projected amount ending up with a positive balance of $290,000 this year.  Mrs. D'Amico further stated that she can make additional budget cuts; however, she needs to know if Board members are willing to support these big cuts; eighty-five percent of the budget is comprised of salary and benefits.   She stated that she has a chart of salary and benefits for every employee in the school system.  Board member Debbie Collins alluded to the reorganization plan that Superintendent D'Amico proposed and passed several months ago and adjustments were made to job titles, salaries, etc. and asked the Superintendent to clarify the cost of the reorganization plan.  Mrs. D'Amico stated that the plan cost a total of $9,000.00, and further stated that the School Board had a positive balance of $290,000 for 2009-2010 and was able to manage this with a projected excess of $444,000 over revenues.  Board member Frank Aguillard stated that parishes throughout the state of Louisiana are having financial difficulties.  He reiterated how the tough decisions in the past allowed the School Board to have a reserve fund, you can't just piece meal cuts.  To approve a balanced budget, all Board members need to sit down with the Superintendent and to come up with a solution and that he concurs with the Finance Committee that no recommendation is a recommendation.  Mrs. D'Amico announced that school systems are required to submit a balanced budget to the State by September 15th of each year in an effort not to appear on a risk list.  The reserve balance would be decreased because of expenses exceeding revenue, but the budget could be submitted as balanced due the use of our accumulated fund balance to offset spending.  Board member James Cline mentioned that he had previously questioned the CFO regarding the Reduction in Force policy being implemented in school systems in Iberville, and West Feliciana parishes and the reason why they were having to cut and Pointe Coupee was not faced with this situation.  He mentioned that decisions would have to be made regarding balancing the budget from reserved funds or making drastic cuts (i.e., employees, etc.) and made a motion to defer this item back to the Finance Committee.  Mr. Frank Aguillard seconded the motion.  Mrs. Debbie Collins stated that she opposed the motion and accepts the Superintendent's recommendation to adopt the budget of a $12,543.00 deficit that includes the $110,000 fuel supplement for bus drivers. President Chad Aguillard requested a 5 minute recess.

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Recess.  The Board recessed at 7:10 p.m.

 

Open Session.  The Board returned to open session at 7:15 p.m.

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Mr. James Cline made a motion, seconded by Mr. Frank Aguillard, to refer the consideration of adoption of the 2010-2011 proposed budget back to the Finance Committee.  A roll call vote resulted as follows:

 

YEAS:              Chad Aguillard, Frank Aguillard, James Cline, Debbie Collins, Kevin Hotard, and Thomas Nelson

 

NAYS:              Brandon Bergeron and Anita LeJeune

 

ABSTENTIONS:             None

 

Board members expressed confusion over the item just voted on as Mrs. Debbie Collins thought that the motion she made should have been voted on first.  Mr. Cline mentioned that Mrs. Collins had expressed her opposition; however, not in the form of a motion.  Mrs.  Anita LeJeune and Mr. Brandon Bergeron also stated that they thought that they were voting on something else.

 

President Chad Aguillard stated he would like to recall the matter just voted on as he would like everyone to understand what is being voted on.  Mr. James Cline made a motion, seconded by Mr. Frank Aguillard, to recall the previous matter voted upon and to refer the consideration of adoption of the 2010-2011 proposed budget back to the Finance Committee.  A roll call vote resulted as follows:

 

YEAS:              Chad Aguillard, Frank Aguillard, Brandon Bergeron, James Cline, Debbie Collins, Kevin Hotard, Anita LeJeune and Thomas Nelson
 

NAYS:              Debbie Collins
 

ABSTENTIONS:             None
 

The motion passed by a 7-1 vote of the Board.

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Adjournment.  On a motion by Mr. Thomas Nelson, seconded by Mr. Frank Aguillard, the meeting adjourned at 7:23 p.m.

 

POINTE COUPEE PARISH SCHOOL BOARD

 

____________________________________

Chad Aguillard, President

 

____________________________________
Linda D. D'Amico, Superintendent

Secretary-Treasurer