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John McDonogh High braces for cuts in 2013-14 budget proposal

The governing board of John McDonogh High School plans to operate the school with about $837,000 less in projected revenue next year.

A look at The Future Is Now Schools, Inc. preliminary 2013-14 budget shows about $3.9 million in projected total revenues and other funds, compared with this year’s $4.7 million operating budget.

The decrease reflects budgeting for a slightly lower enrollment, according to the national organization’s chief operating officer, Chris Lozier.

The projected budget shows an estimated student count of 370. John McDonogh’s initial 2012-13 budget was based on a student count of 480, but it changed during the school year to reflect the school’s actual enrollment of 377.

Other changes in the budget’s revenue account for “a smaller need for fundraising,” as well as sequester cuts to federal Title funding, Lozier said.

“This budgeting is for conservatism,” Lozier said.

Additionally, the school will no longer have help from a one-year innovation project grant of nearly $429,000. In all, the school will receive about $500,000 less in federal money during the 2013-14 school year.

The school is making a few cuts, too. A a total of $92,500 in expenses are slashed from the budget with a line noting, “No security – use Dean of Discipline and Assistant Dean.” It was not immediately clear what that change could entail.

Additionally, management travel expenses are projected to decrease by more than half, down from $100,000 to $48,000.

As of 2013, students at John McDonogh were given bus passes to get to school. Next year, travel expenses for the kids tally out to about $55 per month per student — or a little more than $20,300 a month for about 370 students.

About $9,800 a month is set aside to transport special education students.

Total salaries decreased by $500,000, but Lozier said the changes were mostly related to how the school reports salaries, rather than staffing changes.

Lozier said that the school will also need fewer expenses as John McDonogh transitions from its first year as a turnaround school to it’s second year under Future Is Now: New Orleans management.

Using new football equipment as an example, Lozier said certain items would cost more the first year than in subsequent years, bringing the budget for materials and supplies to less than a third of what they were in the 2012-13 school year.

“This is pretty standard for a startup,” Lozier said. “The equipment left behind during the transition was too damaged to use and all needed to be replaced. Going forward, the school should never need to replace 100 percent of that equipment in any given year.”

Total supplies are down from $373,500 in the 2012-13 budget to about $255,400 in the projected budget for next year.

Next to the line for supplies, a comment in the budget reads: “Note: lines in this section would be hard to cut, spend is at $740 a student.”

“This is the real (though not glamorous) side of budgeting and essentially just a practical analysis,” Lozier wrote in an email, when asked about the comment.

“The supplies budget contains $255k, but this will be spent on dozens of decisions throughout the course of the school year with a constant assessment of what expenses will have the greatest impact on optimizing learning.”

Lozier noted that the budget takes into consideration “dozens of trade-off decisions.”

For example, while the school may face some decreases in supplies and school-based travel such as field trips, the proposed budget gives an option for a $30,000 purchase of a new computer cart.

“A good budget is thoughtful about the organization’s goals, but also reflective of current reality and what can be reasonably achieved in the coming 12 months,” Lozier said. “In this respect, we are satisfied with the budget.”

The board is expected to discuss the budget at a public hearing scheduled for 6 p.m. on Tuesday at 2426 Esplanade Ave.

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  • nickelndime

    Reality!? Did you say, reality? Well, I don’t think you have grasped it quite yet, sir!