Lycée Français to see 23 percent jump in budget

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Lycée Français de la Nouvelle-Orléans will see a $700,000 increase in revenue this year as the charter school’s operating budget jumps by 23 percent to $3.7 million.

This increase in the school’s 2013-2014 proposed operating budget largely reflects the school’s expansion to include third grade and an increase in students at existing grade levels.

The French-immersion charter school will have two classes of third grade, three second grade classes and five first grade classes when it opens its doors in the fall. Lycée is expecting 401 students this fall, according to Julianne Ruocco, Lycée’s director of finance and operations.

The Lens reviewed a comparative budget prepared by Ruocco.

Both local and state funding are increasing from $1.1 million to $1.5 million. That increase of almost 40 percent is due largely to the increase in enrollment and thus an increase in per-pupil funding Ruocco said.

Federal funding is decreasing slightly, from $175,801 to $170,240. The 2012-2013 school year was the final year Lycée received a $100,000 grant under the Public Charter Schools Program.

Federal school food service funding, which is funneled through the state, is doubling, from $29,386 last year to $60,000 in the upcoming year.

The budget includes $34,064 in Title I funding. Last year’s budget did not include any Title I funding, though Ruocco said the school ultimately received about $30,000.

“We actually had actual Title I funds awarded to us but we didn’t budget for them,” Ruocco said.

Lycée also asks families for “consumable fees,” a $250 fee per student paid by the family. While Ruocco said the school does not and cannot require the $250 fee, about 80 percent of families contribute the requested amount. She said that money goes towards materials and supplies for students and the school essentially matches that funding with the amount budgeted.

Money received from the consumable fees are combined with income from after-school care and charges associated with the school’s private preschool program. The money from those programs is expected to decrease by 18 percent this year, from $705,758 to $581,205.

Ruocco said this drop reflects the decision to have only one pre-kindergarten class for three-year-olds instead of the three classes the school had last year. The school has five kindergarten classes and four pre-K classes for four-year-olds.

Lycée’s expenses are increasing along with the jump in revenue. The school will spend about 27 percent more than this year at $3.7 million, over last year’s $2.9 million.

The bulk of that increase is reflected in salaries and benefits, also the majority of the school’s operating cost.

Salaries for teachers and assistant teachers are dropping by about 6 percent, but all other salaries are increasing, for an overall increase of 19 percent from $1.7 million to $2 million.

Salaries for school administration and secretarial positions are increasing 66 percent. Ruocco said after the budget was amended last fall it did not include positions such as an office manager, a position the school will aim to fill this year.

The line item for therapists, specialists and counselor salaries is more than quadrupling, from just $44,000 to $188,432. Ruocco said $44,000 was a low estimate last year and the school actually overspent that figure. She also said Lycée plans to add a guidance counselor this year.

The line item entitled “other” under salaries is increasing by 91 percent, from $122,285 to $234,000. Ruocco said this includes Foreign Associate Teacher stipend funds and all hourly employees.

Along with salary increases and more positions, benefits are increasing by 95 percent, from $251,897 to $490,920, a difference of $239,023.

The school’s budgeted expenses leave $63,113 in reserve funding. Last fall the school had to use its $90,000 in reserve funding to balance the budget after a previously unnoticed deficit was discovered.

Ruocco said the books from 2012-2013 aren’t quite closed yet, but she hopes to have some reserve money to carry over to the new fiscal year, which began July 1.

The public is invited to comment on the 2013-2014 budget at a public hearing Monday at the school.

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