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School leaders on defensive to protect rainy day money

The Lincoln County School District leadersare on the defensive to protect schools from having to dip intoreserve funds, an idea being considered by state leaders to addresstight budget concerns.

    At the Lincoln County School Board meeting Monday night,Superintendent Terry Brister described his concerns over what mighthappen in the future.

    Currently, the Mississippi Legislature is meeting in Jackson andamong the topics being discussed are possible cuts in funding toschool districts across the state. Gov. Phil Bryant has suggestedschool districts collectively use $73 million from their rainy dayfunds to cover a proposed reduction in state funding.

    Brister, who is serving as secretary for the MississippiAssociation of School Superintendents, said a reduction in fundingwould present a challenge to county schools. He said he has beenspending more time in Jackson providing input on behalf of theassociation and school districts.

    The Lincoln County School District has a more than $7 million”rainy day” fund that they could use if necessary. However, Bristersays that could be tricky.

    “The rainy day fund definitely has its positives, but you don’twant the state to see that you have it and force you to spend themoney you saved,” said Brister.

    In the event of a budget cut from the state, Brister says passing anew tax is something he’d try to avoid.

    “I’ve tried to stay away from passing bonds in the past,” saidBrister.

    Brister added that the money the county schools have saved up wouldnot last forever if it had to be used.

    “The money we have saved is one-time use money,” Brister said.”Once it’s gone, it’s gone.”