Lamar County schools to cut millions from budget - WDAM-TV 7-News, Weather, Sports-Hattiesburg, MS

Lamar County schools to cut millions from budget

LAMAR COUNTY, MS (WDAM) - Based on projected state revenue losses, school districts are making some tough decisions this spring regarding staff levels for the fall.

The Lamar County School District is one of many cutting their operating budget by millions of dollars for next year.

Superintendent Ben Burnett is tasked is busy organizing the situation.

"We are impacting student achievement; we're impacting student safety, and we are impacting the jobs of many of our 1250 employees in the Lamar County school district," said Burnett.

Burnett is cutting $6 million. That includes salary reductions for administrators and other employees. Plus, he anticipates fewer teachers.

"My plan is that we have that plan done by the first of April, so people that are affected by this will have months notice," he added.

It is a familiar story to Bill Jones, chairman of the State Board of Education. State funding for school districts is largely dependent on a formula based on attendance figures, he said.

"What is happening in the legislature, they have reduced even that amount, that under-funded amount based upon budget revenue expectations," said Jones. "There are school districts looking at up to 20 percent in some cases less funding than they had the year before."

Jones said local taxes can only be raised so much to fund schools.

"Every school district I know is probably going to raise ad valoreum taxes because the legislature is dumping the cost of educating children on your local land owners rather than the state of Mississippi doing what it is constitutionally required to do, and that is provide an adequate education for all Mississippi children,"  said Jones.

Ben Burnett is hoping to achieve district staff reductions by not replacing employees who resign or retire.

Copyright 2009 WDAM. All rights reserved.

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