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City school board approves $28.6M budget

The Brookhaven School District approved a $28.6 million new yearbudget at Tuesday night’s meeting, meanwhile trying to shore up an$807,000 shortfall in ad valorem collections by borrowing againstnext year’s taxes.

The board voted to approve the budget tentatively set at lastweek’s hearing, acknowledging that the budget will be shortedalmost $800,000 in state funding derived from the MississippiAdequate Education Program, as well as $154,000 less from thefederal government.

The budget eliminates seven teaching positions and a few programs,and with some retiring teachers not being replaced, the school yearwill start with 29 fewer positions, including both certified andnon-certified workers. But, Barrett said, it also leaves theBrookhaven School District with 430 employees.

“We’re still the fourth-largest employer in the county,” shesaid.

She pointed to other positives in the district, such as a highschool completion index that falls 20 percent higher than those ofsurrounding school districts. In addition, she said, there were 25graduating seniors with a 25 or higher on their ACT, and audits ofthe financial dealings of the district once again came back with nonegative findings.

Meanwhile, Barrett presented a shortfall note, with board attorneyBob Allen presenting the shortfall of $807,784.01 from ad valoremtaxes that have not been collected. The board had requested$7,552,520.51 from the city, Allen said, and the estimatedcollections came to $6,745,736.50.

The only way to make up for that, Allen said, is to take advantageof a statute that allows the district to borrow in anticipation ofthe next year’s tax revenue.

“You can borrow against the taxes for the oncoming year,” he said.”That’s the only way we have to raise these funds.”

Allen said the amount would be paid back out of the first fundsthat come in the next year.

“This has been done numerous times before,” he said. “And theeconomy is hellacious now.”

Officials said borrowing against the next year’s taxes will erodethe base as the year goes forward, however.

The board also approved a donation of $69,042.73 worth of equipmentto Mamie Martin Elementary School. The Mississippi DevelopmentAuthority gave the school a sizeable donation in computerequipment, white boards, fax machines and other office equipment,Barrett said.

“This says ‘obsolete’ equipment, but it’s actually only three yearsold, so we’re very glad to have it,” she said.