Faculty members and students in two area school districts suffer a major blow, resulting from the under funding of Mississippi's public schools. Hattiesburg is facing a budget shortfall that could cost over 20 teachers their jobs.
In neighboring Lamar County, a budget shortfall means the district's efforts to provide laptops for every student have been put on hold. Two Pine Belt superintendents grapple with the shortfall that affects dedicated faculty members and students.
"Beginning teachers may or may not be selected to come back," said James Bacchus, superintendent of Hattiesburg Schools.
Over twenty teaching positions will be cut in the Hattiesburg District, which eliminates the majority of a $1.8 million budget shortfall.
"It's something that we are not looking forward to do, but it's the reality of the work. We have to make sure we can provide adequate education for every child," Bacchus said.
The shortfall also involves cutting special education teaching jobs in the Hattiesburg district. Bacchus says five teaching positions were cut, which saves an estimate of $220,000. The decrease in jobs does not involve Superintendent Bacchus receiving a pay raise
Those involved in the budget cuts in the Hattiesburg district are not the only ones suffering.
Superintendent of Lamar County Schools, Ben Burnett, says his district is $1.4 million in the hole.
Lamar County District officials originally promised students individual laptops, but that fell through after district members caught word from the Mississippi Emergency Assistance Program regarding low funding.
Burnett says he hopes to find other technological learning tools that are more reasonably priced than laptops.
Even though Lamar County Students will learn from regular textbooks in the upcoming school year, Burnett says transitioning students to a technological learning environment is necessary for students to be college ready.
The new budget will go into effect on July 1.