Lamar County School District prepares for budget cuts

Lamar County School District prepares for budget cuts

LAMAR COUNTY, MS (WDAM) - The Lamar County School District is no longer growing as it once was, and will lose state funding because of it.

Superintendent Tess Smith said the district is losing its "high growth district" status next year, with total enrollment down to 9,831.

"It's just a category where we would normally receive extra funding, and we not longer fall into that category," Smith said.

Smith said the state bases status on the number of students enrolled in October and November.

"You don't think about it, but when you consider the fact that you've got two hospitals, two universities, Camp Shelby, we do have a lot students that move in and out throughout our district," she said.

Decreased enrollment means decreased state funding, and the district was already working around state budget cuts announced earlier this year.

"It should be a nice chunk," Smith said. "We're trying to look at that now, and figure out exactly because, you know, we're already dealing with other cuts. Actually, we've had several meetings this week trying to determine. We're starting with the pennies and work up with the dollars because it all matters."

Smith said she hopes to make as many small cuts as possible to avoid cuts to personnel.

"Trying to take care of those small things now that we can cut anywhere because the goal is to keep teachers in the classroom," Smith said. "That is our area of most cost, of course, is staff, but we need them in the classrooms consistently."

Lamar County Schools will take in students from the Lumberton School District in 2018, which will increase its enrollment and the amount of money it receives form the state.

"Our numbers will go up, so that will impact our funding for the following year, for the year they come in with us," Smith said.

Smith said she isn't sure how or if the voluntary consolidation impacts the district's high growth status, but said if enrollment is up in October and November of this year, it could regain that status in 2018.