HPSD audit explains financial struggles

HPSD audit explains financial struggles

HATTIESBURG, MS (WDAM) - The Hattiesburg Public School District released a financial audit that explains the depth of the district's monetary struggles.

According to the audit, HPSD's expenditures for the 2014-2015 school year exceeded revenues by more than $3.3 million, and now the district and interim superintendent John Greg Ladner are working to get the district's finances back on track.

"In the long term, he is looking at every possible area that we can cut, and right now, there are no cuts that are off the table as far as consideration goes," said Jas N Smith, HPSD public relations director. "Our priority, of course, is classroom instruction."

Smith said the district is focused on keeping as much classroom stability as possible for students, but also said personnel is a big cost.

"The very nature of our business is we are a people business, so there are a lot of people employed in the district," he said. "That's one of our highest expenses, so certainly, we're looking at that as well."

Last school year's financial problems have bled into the 2015-2016 school year. This year's budget was created based on a projected budget for the district of a little more than $3.9 million at the end of the 2014-2015 school year. The district finished last school year with $768,796.

"We've already had half of the year go by under that old budget that was incorrect," Smith said. "Obviously, it's broken. It needs to stop, so that's what we're doing. We are stopping all financial activity basically until we can get a plan in place that will allow to be financially solvent going forward."

Ladner is the person in charge of coming up with that plan.

"He is working himself to the bone taking the audit report that we've been given, taking our current financials, putting those together and trying to find ways to reconcile that with a feasible budget for the rest of the year and then we can continue on in the right direction," Smith said.

Smith said the district is also working with with two former school district business managers to help with financial details.