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Budget increase of 8 percent matched by rising revenues; $230,000 cushion

Directors of Edgar P. Harney Elementary have approved a budget for 2012-13 that rises by 8 percent, board members disclosed at their budget hearing, July 30.

The board laid out its projected budget at a public hearing on July 30 and then immediately approved it.

The public was notified of the hearing in the July 27 edition of the Times-Picayune, five days before the meeting – a violation of the state’s open meetings laws. The law requires 10 days notice before presenting a budget which requires public discussion.

The board also declined to release a copy of the budget until minutes before the meeting began, another violation of state law.

The Harney board joins a growing list of school boards that continue to disregard state laws regarding public meetings and access to budget documents.

Next year’s budget is $3.2 million, up from $2.95 million last year.

Most of the revenue, about 94 percent, come from the state’s per-pupil allocation under the Minimum Foundation Plan. Based on a projected enrollment of 374 students, the $8,289 per-student state allocation amounts to $3 million for Harney in the coming year.

The budget assumes that donations and additional government allocations, including those under the No Child Left Behind program, will be about the same as last year.

Salaries and benefits, which account for 69 percent of spending, total $2 million. Teacher wages are up 8 percent as a result of some new hires and promotions. The larger staff also brings a 6 percent rise in the cost of employee benefits.

The cost of textbooks and classroom supplies are down this year. This is a result of higher spending last year in preparation for a switch to the Common Core, a school curriculum set for nationwide adoption in the next two years.

The school expects a fund balance of $230,000 as a buffer against unexpected costs.

The next board meeting will take place on Aug. 6 at 6 p.m.

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