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Lake Forest expects increased per-pupil revenue to help it achieve a balanced budget in 2014-15

The board of Lake Forest Elementary Charter School met June 18 to pass its annual budget for the 2014-15 school year.

Predictable increases in expenses such as insurance and utilities contributed to an overall tight financial picture for the organization. However, annual increases in per-student funding mean the organization expects nearly $500,000 in additional revenue that should leave it with a balanced budget for the year.

Salaries are projected to rise about $130,000 next school year, which includes the hiring of one instructional and one operations staffer. That brings the total budget for salaries to almost $3 million. Benefits are projected to rise from about $950,000 to $1.05 million.

That includes the 28 percent that the school is now required to contribute to the Teacher’s Retirement System of Louisiana. The board has tried to maintain participation in the guaranteed-benefit retirement fund in order to retain more experienced teachers, who have paid into it throughout their careers.

However, principal Mardele Early and board members have complained that it’s financially unsustainable for the organization to continue to participate given the higher costs — up from 15.5 percent of payroll in 2009-10 — and the lack of a schedule for future increases.

Repairs and maintenance expenses will rise from just over $20,000 budgeted in 2013-14 to an estimated $64,200 next year. Director of Finance and Operations Bernell St. Cyr indicated he expects extra costs due to the age and condition of the school building.

The facility, which the Orleans Parish charter leases from the Recovery School District, has roof leaks in some of its buildings and problems related to its aging air conditioning system.

The budget also adds an additional $8,800 for security monitoring. The school has been broken into, and copper was stolen from its air-conditioning units. Since then, Lake Forest has installed more advanced security systems and contracted with a company to monitor the grounds when the school is closed.

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