MSA not directly impacted by budget cuts

Published 9:49 pm Saturday, June 11, 2016

The Mississippi School of the Arts will continue to operate on level funding for the 2016-17 academic school year despite statewide budget cuts.

The public boarding school provides a challenging arts education for artistically gifted and talented Mississippi students in a residential learning environment. Students pay no tuition fees to attend the school, relying on legislative appropriations to support most of the school’s costs.

“Thankfully, we did not receive a prescribed cut,” MSA Executive Director Suzanne Hirsch said. “However, the cost of operations increases annually through teacher pay raises — as mandated by law — and increased utilities and repairs as the campus ages. We are adding another program of study in an effort to continue to work toward the original intended plan as established by our leadership. These costs will ultimately result in a cut of sorts.”

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Despite MSA being spared from statewide cuts, Hirsch plans to prepare the school in certain ways in anticipation of less money due to school operation costs.

“Our compensation for a reduction in available funds will include paperless application and enrollment saving on printing and postage costs, attrition of personnel and looking toward individual contract employees instead of companies to provide services for certain aspects of campus needs,” she said.

More than 50 students graduated from MSA in the 2015-16 year, and Hirsch expects enrollment numbers to increase with the addition of the school’s new media arts program.

“Many of our costs are fixed regardless of how many students are here,” Hirsch said. “We have the same number of staff required for the residence halls, security and teachers. We are starting next year with an increase in enrollment due to the addition of media arts. We will not lower our acceptance rates in the coming years.”

Although the revenue stream is down throughout the state, Hirsch said MSA will continue to do its part to acquire outside funds for the operation of the school for years to come.

“Budget cuts have been part of annual allocations to MSA on a regular basis, whether through level budgets despite increased costs or actual cuts to operations,” Hirsch said. “Revenues are down in Mississippi. All the state agencies are feeling it. In the arts, we have to get creative as generally, we have less money. We seek grants, donations and continue to do good work in hopes that funds will be restored as we weather the storm.”