BILOXI, MS. (WLOX) -- The superintendent of Biloxi public schools wants the estimated 700 employees who work for the school district to know that some rough seas are ahead. That's why Dr. Paul Tisdale held a late afternoon meeting Wednesday for any district employee who wanted to come. Minutes before the meeting, he spoke with us. "We know there will be some major changes next year," Tisdale said.
The superintendent and his staff are looking to make up to $3.5 million in budget cuts to offset reductions in state funding. Tisdale emphasized that right now, just about everything is on the table. "Without a doubt, we will be getting into some personnel reduction, but it is too early to say what."
In speaking with staff members, the superintendent said it is very likely some support services will be reduced or eliminated. It could also mean unpaid leave for most staff members, except for teachers.
Among the other things being considered are reductions in technology services, as well as textbook purchases. The system will also take a look at reducing coaching salary supplements and having fewer coaches. Again, right now just about anything is under consideration that would save the district some money.
As for the classroom, Tisdale says any teacher systemwide who leaves voluntarily, probably will not be replaced. In a typical year, that number is anywhere from 10 to 20 teachers, however it is possible the staff reductions may go beyond that. "It's possible some teachers may lose their jobs, there may be a reduction in force," Tisdale said.
That comment certainly got the attention of those in the audience. Many have been with the school system a long time. One school employee told us that after 37 years in education, these budgetary times are as bad as any she has ever seen.
Dr. Tisdale emphasized the school system has always made its number one priority, making sure every child gets a quality education. He is cautiously optimistic these budget cuts will not affect that, however, he candidly admitted that he is worried.
"I am very concerned, especially when you look at a lot of the supportive services we offer," he added. The superintendent urged anyone who so wishes, to contact their lawmakers and let them them know about the harmful consequences the belt tightening is having on public schools.