School Board member Kibbie Pillette made the motion to use $500,000 to try and lower health insurance premiums and the other $500,000 to be put into the general fund account. It was approved 4-3. In the back ground is board member Sara Duplechain.
Budget approved by Vermilion Parish School Board
Good news to those who work for the Vermilion Parish School Board - a balanced budget got approved 4-3 Wednesday night at the school board meeting.
The budget had to be approved by the middle of September.
The hold up to approving a balanced budget was how to get it balanced. A couple of months into the new budget year, and already the budget was predicted to be $2 million short.
School Board member Chris Gautreaux wanted to take $1 million out of the insurance fund and deposit it into the general fund account. Also, he wanted to use the projected $1.6 million the school board collects from 16 Section Land to help balance the budget. But not every board member liked that idea.
After missing three straight school board meetings, three board members, Sara Duplechain, Laura LeBeouf and Kibbie Pillette showed up to the meeting. Board member Luddy Herpin was unable to attend because of health reasons.
Because there was a majority of the board, a meeting was held to try and balance the budget.
When it came time to vote to transfer $1 million from the insurance fund to the general fund, Pillette made a substitute motion to split the $1 million. Pillette’s motion was to transfer $500,000 into the general fund to help balance the budget and then use the other $500,000 to go towards lowering insurance premiums.
The substitute motion passed. Voting for it were Duplechain, LeBeouf, Pillette and Chris Hebert. Voting against it were Anthony Fontana, Gautreaux and Stacy Landry.
Before a vote was taken, Gautreaux gave his thoughts on why the entire $1 million should be put back into the general fund.
“That is absolutely unfair to the rest of the employees of the Vermilion Parish School system,” said Gautreaux. “This is not the insurance people’s money. This is the tax payers’ money. It should go back to the general fund budget to balance the budget, and the rest, spend it in the classroom.”
Duplechain followed: “I am not against a balanced budget. I am against at how we are trying to get there.”
For the last month, Duplechain has been looking over 3,500 pages of last year’s budget to find ways to cut future expenses. “My personal opinion, I do not agree with what we are spending money on. I think we can make major cuts. I think we should go and look at the budget by going line item after line item. It may take four hours, but we have to do that,” Duplechain said.
LeBeouf gave her thoughts on the budget. She said when she first arrived on the board, she voted against her first budget. The budget, according to LeBeouf was over by $3.6 million.
She explained when the second year came around, the budget was around $3 million over budget again.
“So, this year rolls around and I am a little bit smarter,” said LeBeouf. “This is my concern, before I got on the board, the board had a fund balance (money in a savings account) of $19 million. We are expected to have an $8 to $10 million fund balance now. How long will this (fund balance) keep going down? We are over spending. We do not know if the oil industry is going back up. We can hope.”
LeBeouf said if the school board does not control spending over the next two or three years, it will continue to drain the fund balance. She said she fears that schools may have to close if spending continues at the rate it is now.
“We missed those two meetings to stand up and fight for the budget” said LeBeouf. “But if we do not have money, we will begin losing teachers and eventually, we will close schools. That is my whole beef.”