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Starkville schools look at grim budget

 

Bonnie Coblentz

 

STARKVILLE -- Starkville school board members heard vague but poor news Tuesday night about the upcoming school year''s budget. 

 


All board members were present for the meeting, where they unanimously voted to name Keith Fennell the new high school principal, and Joseph Stone was promoted to Armstrong Middle School principal. The hires were made on Pickett Wilson''s motion and Keith Coble''s second. 

 


"I think we''re bringing you the very best through this process," said Superintendent Judy Couey, referencing the public input and interview sessions used to find these candidates. 

 


"I really appreciate the process we used with the community involvement," Coble said of the hires. 

 


Couey and Comptroller Rob Logan discussed at length the budget they are trying to develop for the coming school year. Couey emphasized that without funding figures from the state legislature, the district can only guess at a budget. 

 


"This is the most probable budget we can bring you not knowing what we''ll get," Couey said. "We don''t know what ''fully funded'' means this year," she later added. 

 


The early budget figures are being based on last year''s state Mississippi Adequate Education Program funding level, but the state cut $600,000 of it during the course of the ending school year. Logan said a further 5 percent cut in next year''s funding would mean $893,611 less in MAEP money, and a 10 percent cut would be $1.79 million less. 

 


Logan said if any money is cut from last year''s funding, the district may have to dip into reserve funds. 

 


"We''ll probably have about $1.5 million left if losses come into play," Logan said of possible cuts in the state''s funding to school districts. "The expenses we know -- the revenue we don''t." 

 


Couey said when possible, jobs and duties are being assigned to existing personnel rather than hiring new people, and she emphasized the importance of keeping all the teaching staff. 

 


"We are committed to keep our teachers," Couey said. "These directly impact the kids, and we intend to hold the line on them." 

 


In other business, the board approved the new employee dress code, adjusted the salaries for substitute teachers and approved the coming year''s teacher salary scale. They also handled numerous routine personnel items, including change-of-status moves and retirements and resignations. 

 


The board has no mid-month meeting scheduled and will meet again June 2 at 6 p.m.

 

 

 

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