Following public comment, the Orleans Parish School Board is set to approve a $44 million general fund budget tonight — a 6 percent increase over last year’s proposed budget, and a 2 percent increase over the $43 million budget for last year, as later revised.

The increase this year stems largely from costs associated with the school board’s renovation and rental of several floors in its office building, noted under the budget’s “property costs” line item. Those costs are expected to increase 14 percent this year, to $958,882.

The parish school board holds the purse strings for all local school revenue, including money destined for the Recovery School District. In addition to distributing $45 million in revenue among central office costs and schools it runs directly, the OPSB will pass $142 million on to RSD charters and direct-run schools, 8 percent more than those schools got last year. Another $80 million will go to OPSB charters, a 14 percent increase.

The beefed-up distributions were made possible by additional sales tax from this year’s Super Bowl, as well as a millage increase and higher property assessments, school board comptroller Wayne Delarge said.

Delarge said that “purchased services,” or fees for services performed by other agencies and contractors, appear higher in year-to-year comparisons because he changed the way he calculated the fees the city charges the school board to distribute its ad valorem and sales taxes. Those services are expected to cost $11.3 million this year.

“Normally, I wait until the end of the year to capture the expense of the ad valorem and sales tax,” Delarge said. Instead, he made a $1.4 million adjustment in April to account for those and other costs, as part of the school board’s ongoing effort to improve its reporting procedures. The difference is smaller when last year’s amended budget is compared to this year’s proposed budget.

Other midyear budget amendments – due to costs incurred after annual adjustments for October and February student count numbers, increases in election fees and materials needed for new board members, among other costs — brought last year’s actual expenses to $43 million.

The board will hear public comment on the budget at 4 p.m. at McDonogh 35 Senior High School, followed by its regular meeting at 5 p.m.

Jessica Williams

Jessica Williams stays on top of the city's loosely organized collection of public schools, with a special emphasis on charter schools. In 2011 she was recognized by the Press Club of New Orleans for her...