Brookhaven schools on the hook for up to $100K

Published 10:02 pm Tuesday, April 30, 2019

A mistake by the Mississippi Dept. of Education may cost the Brookhaven school district $80,000-$100,000.

MDE miscalculated how much state funding would be needed to give Mississippi’s teachers a $1,500 raise. The estimated $58 million price tag for the raise was based on numbers from the Mississippi Student Information System database. But the database mistakenly listed some state-funded special education, gifted and career-technical teaching positions as ineligible for funding. It’s unclear how many teachers were excluded statewide.

“The district has no choice about covering the cost of the unfunded portion because of the associated legislation requiring the raise for all teachers,” Superintendent Ray Carlock said. “Even though MDE made a mistake, the district is held responsible. We have made cuts in other areas to cover the unfunded cost of the raise.”

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“There is no question that our teachers deserve a raise,” he said. “This partially unfunded mandate has brought a negative aspect to an otherwise good legislative action.”

Carlock said the estimated $80,000-$100,000 covers pay raises for “many teachers across the district in all departments.”

Gov. Phil Bryant and others said a special legislative session shouldn’t be necessary, saying teachers can be paid on schedule starting July 1 and lawmakers can add more money in 2020 when the new Legislature meets after elections.

“The taxpayers of Mississippi should not have to fund a special session because of a mistake made by the Mississippi Department of Education,” Bryant said in a statement. “MDE should identify any other funds that can be used to pay for the raises not accounted for in the original funding, and the Legislature can refund that source through a deficit appropriation in January.”