One-time money to buy 6 new buses in St. Mary Parish

CENTERVILLE, La. — One-time funds were designated Thursday for the purchase of new substitute school buses, freeing the current fleet parked at the Central Office Complex to be used as activity buses at each of the parish high schools.

The oldest buses at each of the high schools then will be released to the corresponding junior high schools.

St. Mary Parish School Board Chairman Roland Verret had a request for those transferring the buses between schools.

“Please don’t give the junior high schools trash,” he said.

Purchase of the six new buses will cost about $510,000, according to Alton Perry, school system chief financial officer. Upon unanimous board motion, the unreserved general fund excess of $330,000 plus about $150,000 from recently received pipeline litigation protest taxes and $30,000 from the bus reserve fund will be used for the purchase.

The remainder of the pipeline money, gained recently as the result of a 1994 lawsuit in which pipeline companies protested the amount of taxes they were required to pay, will go toward various purposes.

Of the $793,000 in the general fund, $150,000 has been designated for the bus purchase, $500,000 for future technology needs and $150,000 for the new salary schedule’s one-time conversion costs.

In District I, the capital project fund received $153,000 designated only for future use.

District II’s $311,000 was designated for the purchase of portable classroom buildings at Berwick High School and for future technology needs.

The board agreed to advertise for bids for both the buses and the portable buildings.

In other financial matters Thursday, the board received its audit with an unqualified opinion. The only significant deficiency that was found concerned internal control problems having to do with problems discovered earlier this year at Berwick Elementary School.

The condition, as stated in the audit, was “lack of principal oversight of the accounting for school activity funds at (Berwick Elementary) allowed for the misappropriation of the school’s funds by an employee of the school.”

Management’s plan to correct the finding is to update the school activity fund policy manual to include additional procedures for the funds.

Additionally, increased school audits will be randomly scheduled at the rate of every school being audited on a four-year rotation. Additional audits may be conducted as necessary, and individual accounts, fundraisers and athletic event collections may be audited on a random basis with no advance notice.

Finally, sales tax collections for the year to date are 12.5 percent above budget predictions, Perry said.

Actual collections are $7.52 million as compared to a budget of $6.68 million through November. The amount is 9 percent higher than the same period in 2011.

St. Mary Now & Franklin Banner-Tribune

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