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Lafayette school board discusses financial impact of COVID-19

Lafayette School Board to discuss superintendent search, begin budget hearings
Posted at 10:26 AM, Jun 10, 2020
and last updated 2020-06-10 22:47:47-04

At tonight's regular meeting, school board members discussed the financial impact of the pandemic on the system. So far, sales tax collections for the board are down $2.8 million for the months of April and May.

Also on the agenda were proposed changes to the student handbook. You can see the whole agenda, as well as all of the attachments for each item, here.

On the sales tax issue, board officials are working with the information they have so far, which are collections for April and May. They've come up with some different approaches to cover the shortfall, including contingency plans as things develop.

Here are the details from the agenda documents:

Total sales tax collections for the LPSS for the month of April were $1,205,126 ($898,374 - General Fund's portion and $306,752 - 2002 1/2 Cent Sales Tax Fund's portion) less than April's of prior year.

Total sales tax collections for the month of May are $1,669,006 ($1,242,713 - General Fund's portion and $426,293 - 2002 1/2 Cent Sales Tax Fund's portion) less than May's of last year.

"With only two months of historical collections available and given the uncertainty of the extent of COVID - 19's impact on our future collections, it is difficult to project the total impact that this pandemic will have on our fiscal year 2021's sales tax collections/projections," the agenda item states.

The business staff are using guidance from the Office of the Louisiana Legislative Auditors office issued a report in May, said Billy Guidry, assistant superintendent. Because this is an unprecedented invent, the LLA tried to estimate what the impacts would be for local government.

Even so, it's hard to predict what will happen, but here are the figures for the various scenarios the Legislative Auditor prepared:

Scenario 1: Average Decrease for LPSB of 6.6%: ($6,047,766)

Scenario 2: Pessimistic Scenario Based on 10.4% Decrease: ($9,529,813)

Scenario 3: Optimistic Scenario Based on 3.6% Decrease: ($3,298,781)

Given the range of projected decreases reflected in these three scenarios, here are three options being suggested by the administration in the agenda documents:

Fiscal Year 2020:
Transfer $4,500,000 from fiscal year 2020 General Fund's projected surplus to Self Funded Construction Fund: "Committed School Sites Renovations/Replacements: Prairie, Carencro Heights, Lafayette High"

Fiscal year 2021:
Retain the budget line item within the General Fund for the $4,500,000 transfer to the Self Funded Construction Fund: "Committed School Sites Renovations/Replacements: Prairie, Carencro Heights, Lafayette High" (CSSRR:PCL) but hold off on making any actual transfer. If the actual sales tax collections for FY 2021 decrease to a level that require an "offset" within the General Fund, then the transfer would not be made and the funds would serve as an offset for the decline in sales tax revenues within the General Fund. Given the $4,500,000 transfer that would be made in 2020 by the General Fund to the SFC Fund, the "CSSRR: PCL account would still reflect actual additional funding of $4,500,000 in FY 2021. Leaving the budget item intact in 2021 serves as a placeholder for the transfer to be budgeted in subsequent fiscal years.

Retain the "Sales Tax Revenue" budget line item in the amount of $2,500,000 within the Self Funded Construction Fund and Capital Improvement Fund but hold off on making the actual transfers from the Sales Tax Fund to these two capital funds. If the actual sales tax collections for FY 2021 decrease to a level that require an "offset" within the General Fund, then the transfers from the Sales Tax Fund would not be made to the two capital funds and would serve as an offset for the decline in sales tax revenues within the General Fund. The "Committed For Next School Year Projects" balances in each of the capital funds are adequate to "cover" the $2,500,000 transfers that would not be made. Leaving the budget item intact in 2021 serves as a placeholder for the transfers to be budgeted in subsequent future years.

The agenda item on the student handbook shows several proposed changes to the rules for the 20-21 school year.

Among the changes are revisions to the dress code and absence policies. The board approved a change of language in the handbook to "Unnaturally colored hair, highlights, braids, and/or extensions are not allowed. (Unnatural is defined as not naturally occurring on people)." Some school board members showed concern over the use of the words "braids and/or extensions," but others reiterated that braids themselves are allowed. Unnaturally colored hair is not.

You can find all the approved changes here.

There was also a list of schools where all kids can eat breakfast and lunch for free this year, regardless of income and without filling out any forms.

Here's the list:

Acadian Middle, L Leo Judice Elementary, Acadiana High, Judice Middle, Alice Boucher Elementary, Lafayette Middle, LJ Alleman Middle, Lerosen Preparatory, Paul Breaux Middle School, Live Oak Elementary, Dr. Raphael Baranco Elementary, Green T Lindon Elementary, Broussard Middle, Edgar Martin Middle, Charles Burke Elementary, SJ Montgomery Elementary, Carencro Heights Elementary, Myrtle Place Elementary, Carencro Middle, Northside High, Carencro High, Ossun Elementar,y Ovey Comeaux High, Corporal Michael Middlebrook Elementary, Katharine Drexel Elementary, Prairie Elementary, Duson Elementary, Ridge Elementary, Evangeline Elementary, Scott Middle, JW Faulk Elementary, Truman Early Childhood Center, Ernest Gallet Elementary, Westside Elementary, JW James Elementary, Woodvale Elementary.

Here's the proposed changes to the student handbook, with changes/new passages in red:

You can watch the full school board meeting here.