Home » WPSB approves budget revisions and bond resolutions

WPSB approves budget revisions and bond resolutions

by Amber McDown

The Webster Parish School Board (WPSB) held a special meeting on May 20 to vote on the revised budget for the 2023-2024 fiscal year and to approve resolutions related to funding approved by voters on April 27. All board members were present, and all items passed unanimously.

Business Director Crevonne Odom presented the budget revisions during the finance meeting preceding the board meeting. Odom highlighted that while revenue is up, expenditures have increased more significantly, resulting in deficits for all but one fund by the end of the fiscal year. These deficits will be covered by reserve funds.

“The general fund is decreasing rapidly,” said Odom.

Superintendent Rowland attributed the financial changes to a decline in student numbers, rising health insurance premiums, increasing utility costs, and pay raises for teachers affected by a previously lifted salary freeze.

Grant Schlueter, managing partner of Foley & Judell LLP, addressed the board regarding resolutions for canvassing the April 27 election returns and authorizing the incurrence of debt and issuance of $11 million in general obligation school bonds for Springhill School District No. 8.

“We understand that you want to move quickly with the Springhill $11 million. This starts tonight with the resolution you have before you,” said Schlueter. He noted that his firm will secure a bond rating from Standard & Poor’s and guide the board through the process. Schlueter will return at the August 5 board meeting to confirm the terms of the bond sale, including interest rates. By August 21, he plans to deliver the bonds to the purchaser, making the proceeds available for expenditure.

Schlueter also emphasized the importance of maintaining healthy reserve funds for favorable bond ratings. “Every time we do a bond issue, we have to go back to Standard & Poor’s, the credit rating agency, for your bond rating. Bond rating is very, very important because it determines what the interest rate is going to be. Amongst many factors, the rating agency considers fund balance, what kind of reserves that you have. Standard & Poor’s is generally looking for school boards to have at least a 10% fund balance,” he explained.

The next school board meeting is scheduled for 6 PM on June 3 at the school board office. The public is welcome to attend.

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