• 75°

School board OKs $24M budget

The Lincoln County School Board on Monday formally approved thedistrict budget for the coming school year, enacting a lessened butstill strong spending formula expected to carry the system throughwith no major cutbacks.

The $24 million budget will support operations at all four countyschools throughout the 2010-11 school year without necessitatinglayoffs or teacher furloughs, measures other districts around thestate and region are using to reign in expenses as state fundinglevels drop. The district is filling in the gaps in the new budget- which allows $3 million less than last year’s budget – with fundbalances scraped together and saved during more robust times.

“Basically, we’re taking it to the bare minimum. We’re just elatedwe’re able to do what we’ve done now, without any layoffs orfurloughs,” said superintendent Terry Brister.

The budget was approved in a 3-0 vote, with board members Jack Caseand Stacey Newell absent. Brister was also missing from the meetingafter recovering from a minor surgery.

The majority of the district’s budgeted revenue comes from stateand local sources, with the Mississippi Adequate Education Programand smaller state sources providing $13.1 million and localtaxpayers contributing $3.54 million in property taxes. The budgetdid not require the local tax millage to increase.

Of the district’s $17.1 million operation fund, approximately $14.3million – 84 percent – will pay the salaries and benefits of thedistrict’s teachers.

The district held off on some expenditures, opting not to purchasenew school buses in fiscal year 2011 and not adding to the schools’textbook funds. Money stashed over the years will carry thedifference, but Brister said the district’s financial cushion wouldexpire if next year’s budget takes another million-dollardecrease.

“Hopefully, this is not a continuing process in the next few years.If it is, we’ll have to take more drastic measures,” he said.”We’re being very conservative with our money and anticipating theworst. Now is the time to start laying down and looking to whatnext year brings.”