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Budget request would return MSA funding to levels before 2004 cuts

The state Department of Education’s $7.6 million budget requestfor the Mississippi School of the Arts and the Mississippi Schoolfor Mathematics and Science would bring the MSA budget back topre-funding cut levels, a state education official said.

Dr. Ron Love, special assistant to the superintendent for stateand special schools, said the request for 2005 funding includesapproximately $3 million for MSA and about $4.6 million forMSMS.

The 2004 budget for MSA was approximately $2 million, he said,after the state Legislature trimmed $1 million, about one-third ofits 2003 budget, to fund other services.

“It was a substantial cut the year before,” Love said. “We lostalmost one-third of our funding and had to cut personnel. We had tocut everywhere. It was a hard year, but we’re doing well given thesize of the cut.”

The cut hurt, he said, but the school was able to scale backexpanding programs, trim existing programs and limit supplies tomake up the difference after all non-essential personnel werereleased.

“There are a lot of needs and we try to prioritize those,” hesaid. “We are fortunate in that we purchased a lot of the necessaryequipment in the first year.”

The request of approximately $3 million for 2005 “would bringthe school back to precut levels” and allow them to breathe alittle easier and move forward with expanding some existingprograms or add a few new programs, Love said.

In addition to debating the existence of the school, thepossibility of helping to meet the schools’ needs throughresidential housing fees has been mentioned.

“I’m hopeful that whatever happens we won’t limit the accessbased on income,” Love said. “We want all kids to be able tobenefit from the school, not just those who can afford it.”