City schools would get less in Barbour plan’

Published 6:00 am Wednesday, November 29, 2006

The Brookhaven School District would receive about $535,000 lessunder an education funding plan supported by Gov. Haley Barbourthan under a proposal to fully fund the Mississippi AdequateEducation Program, Superintendent Lea Barrett said Tuesday.

During Tuesday’s board of trustees meeting, Barrett presented anoutline comparing funding levels under Barbour’s plan and thoseunder full MAEP funding for all state school districts. Educationfunding is expected to be a hot topic during the 2007 legislativesession that starts in January.

Full MAEP funding is estimated to provide Brookhaven with $12.69million for fiscal year 2008. That would be up $463,615 over the$12.23 million the city school district received in FY 07.

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Barbour’s plan, though, would give the Brookhaven SchoolDistrict $12.16 million – a difference of $535,177 between it and afully funded MAEP. Also, Barbour’s plan would see the schooldistrict receive $71,562 less than what it got this year.

Brookhaven is one of 16 school districts in the state that wouldreceive less under Barbour’s recommendations than under fullfunding for MAEP, according to a review of the proposed fundinglevels.

Barrett stressed the totals presented last night are preliminaryand mentioned a need for clarification on some of the numbers. Shealso mentioned recent editorials and other public comments fromRep. Cecil Brown, chairman of the House Education Committee,regarding the importance of fully funding MAEP.

“We’re continuing to press for full funding and that will be anongoing process,” Barrett said.

In other money matters, accountant Pat Lowery discussed hisrecent audit of the school district’s financial practices.

Lowery said the audit was clean and there were no findings tosuggest that accounting practices or state laws were not beingfollowed properly. He commended Financial Director Susan Quin andher staff on their efforts, particularly in the handling ofadditional funds related to Hurricane Katrina student evacuees whohad joined the district.

“I know many districts in the southern part of the state havehad some problems with that,” Lowery said.

Also last night, Mississippi School of the Arts ExecutiveDirector Dr. Vicki Bodenhamer updated officials on events at thearts school.

Bodenhamer said the school is off to a good start with a”wonderful” class. She said the school year began with 118 studentsand that number is now down to about 114.

“We’ve lost a couple to homesickness and some disciplinaryissues,” Bodenhamer said.

Bodenhamer also complimented the incoming class and localeducational offering. She said students are coming to MSA withhigher grade point levels and are maintaining them during theirtime at the arts school and at Brookhaven High School.

The director mentioned several new faculty members at MSA and arecent visit to the school by state Board of Education members.

“They were highly impressed with the city,” Bodenhamer said. “Weenjoyed having them here.”