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County schools planning $34M new year budget

The Lincoln County School District is in good shape heading into the 2012-2013 fiscal year.

     Chief Financial Officer Cheryl Shelby said at Monday night’s budget hearing the district will not need any new or increased taxes for the upcoming year and will operate on a proposed $34 million budget. She said the district is in a great place financially, especially compared to many districts across the state and nation that are not.

     “There will be very little change in expenditures from last year,” she said. “We’re talking about less than a .05 percent change. It’s virtually the status quo from last year.”

     The main changes to the budget are the construction of new gyms at Bogue Chitto and Enterprise and the purchase of a new handicapped school bus.

     Shelby added that 75 percent of the budget will go directly to running the district’s four schools. Per pupil spending is estimated to be $6,067 under the proposed budget.

     Superintendent Terry Brister applauded the school board’s work as the district has gone from being in bad financial shape to now having a surplus while also managing to keep up facilities.

     “Our facilities are as good as shape as they’ve been in some time,” he said. “They’re in great shape. It’s nothing great architecturally, but we’re solid with our buildings.”

     The district is losing about $200,000 in Mississippi Adequate Education Program and other funding from the state, something that was expected for the new year. Officials said they could have asked local taxpayers to make up the difference, but Brister said they didn’t feel that would have been right.

     “We’re fortunate to be where we are,” said Brister. “We’re not gloating. With the economy like it is, we’re not going to try to take something we don’t need from the people.”

     School officials did point out that of Lincoln County’s top 10 highest taxpayers, nine of them were individuals who own large amounts of land, not businesses like in many communities. The only business to crack the list was Denbury Resources, Inc.

     Final approval of the budget will take place at a special meeting on June 28.