Decisions on ways to ease the budget crunch will determine the direction the Pointe Coupee Parish School District takes in 2020.

The ever-present, looming financial challenges will continue to dominate business for the school systemt during the year, Superintendent Kim Canezaro said Tuesday.

The budget shortfall for the upcoming school year could exceed $900,000 going into the next school year.

“I think the board is going to probably have to make some decisions to stabilize the budget, whether it’s cost-saving measures or increasing revenue, or both,” she said.

“I’m hoping decisions are made soon so that finances are stable when we start the school year in August – or, at least, that’s my hope.

“If we can do that, we can start thinking in broader terms on new programs we can bring to the district,” said Canezaro, who took office in July. “But first, we have to get the budget stable.”

Budget issues will continue to overlap into other areas, including school performance scores on standardized testing, largely because of the high rate of attrition among teachers in the parish.

Pointe Coupee Parish is not alone on issues with attrition and retention, but the higher salaries in neighboring parishes make the challenges much tougher on the home front, she said.

The new year also will continue to face the challenges of higher costs for transportation, retirement programs and health insurance premiums.

“Expenses continue increasing and revenues keep decreasing,” Canezaro said. “It’s because we’re already working with limited resources.”

The school system remains under an indefinite spending freeze, she said.

School system Chief Financial Officer Stephen Langlois will present budget revisions during the board’s next meeting Jan. 23.

On a brighter note, Canezaro said she looks forward to the first graduating class for the STEM Academy and Livonia High School.

The 2020 commencement ceremony is tentatively scheduled for May 17 at LSU’s Pete Maravich Assembly Center. It will mark the first commencement ceremony outside Pointe Coupee Parish.

The School Board agreed to the move in May to accommodate a larger crowd. It will also prevent the risk of a rainout.