District presses forward with budget hearing

Published 5:00 am Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Brookhaven School District trustees Tuesday scheduled a June 16public hearing on a new school year budget, but what that spendingplan will include remains to be seen.

With the new state fiscal year starting July 1, Mississippilawmakers have yet to reach agreement on a state budget. That lackof resolution has left Brookhaven and other school districts aroundthe state facing funding uncertainty over how to prepare for thenew year.

“We don’t have any numbers at this time, but we will do the bestwe can,” said Superintendent Lea Barrett about budgetpreparation.

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In preparing the budget, Barrett said officials know how manyteachers will be needed and know what programs they want tokeep.

“We do not intend to cut any programs,” Barrett said.

Barrett said 75 percent of the budget is related to personnelexpenses.

“We will take the worst case scenario, which is the governor’sproposal, and work from there until we hear otherwise,” Barrettsaid.

The superintendent said that scenario would mean a cut forBrookhaven of about $163,000. She said there are no plans to cutany personnel.

“We are holding off on a couple of positions pendingnotification of allocation of MAEP,” Barrett said.

The Mississippi Adequate Education Program is a state plan forfund school districts across the state at a level to provideadequate education for students. State lawmakers have expressedsupport for full MAEP funding, but have yet to agree on how toresolve funding of Medicaid and some other issues.

School board officials took the budget uncertainty in stride andindicated all eyes would be on the Capitol as the new budget yearapproaches.

“Maybe we could direct people to the Governor’s Mansion orsomewhere in that direction,” quipped Stan Patrick, school boardpresident.

In other business Tuesday, school officials approved the hiringof Preston Wilson as the new Brookhaven High School boys basketballcoach. Wilson will replace Ronald Hines, whose contract was notrenewed.

Wilson previously coached at BHS from 1994 to 2001, serving ashead coach the last six years. He’s coached the last three years inLawrence County.

“We are thrilled that he’s coming back home,” Barrett said ofWilson.