La’s budget cut killed Monroe’s schools check



State budget cuts last year wiped out funds the Monroe City school district previously used to fund an additional check for teachers.

Superintendent Brent Vidrine said directors had been warned that the check, which was distributed in January of last year, would not come. Board chairman Rodney McFarland said he and other board members had received calls from school employees who believed the decision to remove the check was made by the board or administration.

Financial director DaVona Howard said state budget cuts affected $ 900,000 in funding for the Non-Minimum Foundation program, which the district used to create a spare check for teachers. In addition to state money, the district has historically generated a small supplement for classified employees using local funds that were disbursed at the same time.

Howard said employees also receive two other additional checks generated by local taxes.

Read more: Proposed $ 29 million reduction affects K-12 education

Awarded students of the year

Three top performing students were recognized as Monroe City Schools Student of the Year: Zaire Rivers, a fifth grader at JS Clark Primary School; Anna Grace Hansen, eighth grade student at Lee Junior High; and Darius Washington, senior at Neville High.

Rivers is a gifted student. She is a member of the National Honor Society, the student council and the JS Clark Choir. Her hobbies include playing the piano, dancing, reading and playing with her dolls. She is the daughter of Sylvia and Freddy Rivers.

Hansen is an A-level student. She will attend Neville High School next year and plans to pursue a career in the medical field. She captains the cheers team, plays softball and dances competitively. Hansen is a member of the National Honor Society and the Beta Club, and she volunteers at several locations. She is the daughter of Adam and Julie Hansen.

Washington got a perfect score on the ACT. He plans to major in computer science and mathematics at the University of Louisiana at Monroe. He is a member of the Neville Quiz Bowl team, which will compete in a national competition this summer. He is a member of the National Honor Society and a founding member of the Youth Summer Leadership Group of Neville and a long-time member of the school’s Renaissance program. Washington was recently named one of the Top 20 Tigers of the Class of 2017. He is the son of Marish and Sonia Washington.

Read more: Monroe teen gets perfect ACT score

Audit review

J. Thomas Simms III of Carr, Riggs & Ingram LLC presented the district audit for the year ended June 30. He said no significant weaknesses were found. The audit had four findings and the management letter sent on December 22 offered a suggestion. Simms said the district was making progress on the findings and suggestions.

Technology-related contracts have been awarded to an entrepreneur with family or legal ties to the former director of the Department of Management Information Services, which is prohibited by law. During the audit, Howard said the district is consulting legal counsel on the matter, and the auditors recommend that appropriate due diligence be taken when selecting contractors.

Federal scholarship expenditure schedule should be prepared in accordance with uniform guidelines. The schedule was not presented in accordance with the requirements and was not reviewed and reconciled with the general ledger. Some information has not been updated since the previous year. The management response said that the board will review the schedules in the future.

The auditors recommend that the board train additional employees to act as replacements in the event that another is absent from the office. Another finding was that reconciliations and schedules of accounts should be reviewed and completed in a timely manner.

In the management letter, Simms said, two of the 60 employee accounts audited were not being held for retirement. Vidrine said these were substitute teachers and a process was in place to ensure the retreat was put on hold.

All 2015 audit findings have been resolved.

The board is expected to elect the 2017 officers at its next meeting on February 7.

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