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Franklin Parish School Board members approved an annual budget that is $584,000 less than the previous year’s budget.

The projected decline comes mainly from Minimum Foundation Program (MFP) funding which is based heavily on student enrollment. Local public school enrollment has been declining for numerous years.

Under MFP, Louisiana Department of Education annually adopts a formula based primarily on student enrollment to allocate funding for education to school districts. Funding through this program is provided to school districts as a block grant. 

Reasons for the loss was a decrease in student count and increased sales revenue resulting in a local cost allocation and decreased state cost allocation.

Rebecca Boquet, School Board business manager, reviewed the budget with School Board members in their June 7 regular meeting.

In the current fiscal year ending in June, Franklin Parish schools have lost $664,000 in MFP funding.

“We have lost nearly $1 million in MFP funding in the last two years,” Boquet said. “Fortunately, we have had some federal funds that have helped us take care of the deficit. We did come out this year (in budget numbers) with a plus.”

Boquet hopes more federal dollars will come into Franklin Parish schools.

“We may see another increase in federal grants,” Boquet said. “This will help to prop the budget up.”

According to budget numbers, total revenues and expenditures amounted to approximately $43 million.

The school system shows approximately $24 million in its general fund budget, some $10 million in support services, approximately $13 million in instruction and $108,144 in non-instruction.

Budget revenue and expenditure figures were balanced.

“Salaries are approximately 50 percent, active employee benefits are approximately 28 percent and retiree health care costs make up approximately 10 percent,” said School Superintendent John Gullatt. “This leaves about 12 percent for operations, property, liability, fleet and other insurances as well as textbooks and classroom supplies.”

Meanwhile, School Board members will consider a $10,000 sign on bonus for certified teachers who are coming into the local public school system. The possible bonus will be spread out over three years.

The measure is to help attract new certified teachers and could possibly be voted in the July 12 regular meeting which is scheduled to start at 4 p.m.

“The number of teachers you hire will be relatively small,” Gullatt said. “You are not going to be replacing a lot. We got to compete with the other systems.”

Currently, there are three teacher positions to be filled at Franklin Parish High School.

Since going to a four-day work week, Troy Bell, child welfare and attendance supervisor, said the school system has seen an increase in employee applications and interest.

“I have just posted the guidance counselor position at the high school,” said Bell. “We had almost 20 applicants. That blew me out of the water. I figured we would have one or two. I have had certified teachers and administrators from other systems to call and ask how do we apply. Take the four-day work week and if we find a way for them to make more money and get more certified teachers, we will be going the right way.”

School Board members voted for a four-day work week in a special-called meeting April 15. The shortened schedule will start in the 2020-21 academic year.

Additionally, School Board members passed a one-time COVID-19 pandemic services payment for teachers and staff including Franklin Parish’s Head Start program.

Certified teachers will receive $2,000 and non-certified and support staff will receive $1,000 at the end of June.

“I am extremely happy about this,” Gullatt said. “This is probably the best June (for employees). This makes for an excellent month, and hopefully sets us up for the beginning of a good school year.”

In other action, School Board members approved two separate land lease bids for “The Fox Pen” - Bobby Blossom and “Liddieville Cut” - Jerry Smith.

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