September 12, 2009 8:29:00 PM
Kristin Mamrack -
Local school districts took heavy hits under state budget cuts levied this week, but most school district officials said they expected and prepared for the cuts.
Earlier this week, the state Department of Education told school districts how much money they''ll lose because of budget cuts. Gov. Haley Barbour announced last week that because of weak state tax collections, he was cutting the overall $6 billion state budget by 2.9 percent.
The cuts to education, however, were 5 percent, because education was funded at record levels and Barbour said some other agencies were already receiving less money this year than last.
Lowndes County School District
The LCSD''s budget was cut by $1,039,566, for a revised Mississippi Adequate Education Program (MAEP) allocation of $21,455,354.
Additionally, Lowndes County lost $4,033 in instructional supply funding and $25,561 in ad valorem tax allocations, through Education Enhancement Funds (EEF) reductions.
"Honestly, our budget was established this year, with the understanding to expect this," LCSD Superintendent Mike Halford said of the cuts. "The governor spoke to us (earlier) and he pretty much let us know to expect this and to expect it early.
"We established a budget this year that was bare bones, with the understanding to expect this," he stressed. "We protected the classroom, but we also did not buy some new buses. We cut some non-certified staff, but it was minimal in that sense. The thing we were most protective of was the classroom."
Columbus Municipal School District
The CMSD''s budget was cut by $933,992 for a revised MAEP allocation of $19,244,383.
Additionally, the CMSD lost $3,314 in instructional supply funding and $20,872 in ad valorem tax allocations, through EEF reductions.
"The Columbus School District planned our 2009-2010 budget according to guidance from the Mississippi Department of Education," said CMSD Superintendent Dr. Del Phillips. "Our budget reflected an anticipated cut in state revenue as the year progressed. We began this budgeting process last January by choosing to leave support positions unfilled and look for every avenue to become more efficient in support services, was well as travel and non-classroom activities.
"We continue to look for ways to be efficient and effective with our human and financial resources to make the largest impact possible on student achievement," he added.
Oktibbeha County School District
The OCSD''s budget was cut by $208,563 for a revised MAEP allocation of $4,262,751.
Additionally, the OCSD lost $634 in instructional supply funding and $4,126 in ad valorem tax allocations, through EEF reductions.
"We lost some positions last year due to attrition, because we felt that more cuts were on the way," said OCSD Superintendent James R. Covington Jr. "We are tightening our belts once again and making certain that all expenditures are instructionally related or related to the safety of our students. We have not reduced any services, as of yet. We are making certain that we are more efficient in the services we provide. Cuts will be absorbed throughout the budget, not in any particular place, as of yet."
Starkville School District
The Starkville School District''s budget was cut by $857,124 for a revised MAEP allocation of $17,642,936.
Additionally, the district lost $3,137 in instructional supply funding and $19,126 in ad valorem tax allocations, through EEF reductions.
"It is important for everyone to realize that the cuts were made to funds that provide the day-to-day operations of our districts," said Starkville School District Superintendent Judy Couey. "The stimulus money that was allocated to prop up shortcomings in state funding has now been removed from districts. The remaining stimulus money we received must be spent in a way that does not duplicate state services in Title I and special education. Any time this much money is removed from your operations, services will be affected.
"In Starkville, we are continuing to closely scrutinize new expenditures and monitoring operational costs in all areas," she continued. "We have worked very hard to protect personnel, but given the dire situation created by these cuts, all options will be on the table. While we have continued to provide all services, we are at the point where we cannot grow programs and are focusing on maintaining and cutting proportionally across the district."
Clay County and West Point school districts
The Clay County School District''s budget was cut $42,679 for a revised MAEP allocation of $877,413.
Additionally, Clay County lost $118 in instructional supply funding and $744 in ad valorem tax reductions, through EEF allocations.
The West Point School District''s budget was cut $710,739 for a revised MAEP allocation of $14,710,580.
And West Point lost $2,442 in instructional supply funding and $15,655 in ad valorem tax reductions, through EEF allocations.
Despite repeated attempts, neither CCSD Superintendent Mae Brewer nor WPSD Superintendent Steve Montgomery could be contacted for comment for this story.
The Associated Press contributed to this story.