LAMAR COUNTY, MS (WDAM) - Due to state budget cuts, roughly 800 employees in the Lamar County School District will see a pay cut in the 2017-18 school year.
Lamar County School District Superintendent Tess Smith notified district employees by letter last week, May 17, 2017.
"During the 2016-17 school year, on 4 different occasions Gov. Bryant informed us that our funding was being reduced. Our total reduction for the 2016-17 school year was $409,754," said Smith in the letter.
With that amount of budget reduction, and the district not qualifying as a "high growth district" and losing additional MAEP funding, cuts had to be made according to Smith.
"With the additional reduction in MAEP funding and a loss of high growth status, our budget reduction for the next year is $1.5 million," said Smith.
"We've kind of had to prepare for that, and knowing the cuts that we dealt with this school year and what's coming for next year, yeah we have made some significant cuts," said Smith. "They affect our teachers, and then they affect anyone who works over 187 days for a contract."
Smith added that it also includes most of the administrative staff and non-certified administrative staff level as well.
"People that were not affected were our non-certified staff at the school level, so our bus drivers, cafeteria, teacher assistants, that level of staff, our goal was not to touch their salary," said Smith.
Smith said the notification of budget cuts, and budget talks are routine for this time of year.
"This is the time of year that we are notified as to how much money we're going to get for next school year, so we budget around that," said Smith.
With the four cuts, totaling roughly $400,000, Smith said they are working to prepare for the next year, as well as anticipated cuts.
"We've been told to anticipate further cuts for next year, so we're trying to make up the difference and be prepared for that future cut," said Smith.
"In an attempt to offset this budget reduction, we have reduced all school and department budgets. Next, we had to look at supplements and salaries. Everyone on the teacher pay scale will see a loss of $100 in his/her local supplement as well as the loss of a $75 insurance reimbursement. The amount divided over 12 months is $14.58 per month. District level certified positions, school administrators, and district non-certified directors and managers through the district will be reduced by one day, which is an average daily amount of $415, $346, and $312 respectively. These reductions will provide a savings of approximately $150,000 to the district," according to the letter.
"It'll save at least $150,000 and that may not seem like a lot to a lot of people, but I look at everything in teacher units," said Smith. (Meaning a rough estimate is one teacher unit equals $50,000.)
"Well that's easily three teacher units, now I see a school bus on the road and that's two teacher units, it's just the way I have to look at things," said Smith.
Smith said the overall goal was to ensure that our current employees would still have a job, and some positions may have to be moved, but the district will continue looking for areas to reduce cost throughout the coming school year.
"The goal was to keep teachers in the classroom, because that is our priority every time we look at our budget," said Smith.