Gulfport's School Superintendent asking for tax increase - - The News for South Mississippi

Gulfport's School Superintendent asking for tax increase


By Trang Pham-Bui – bio | email

GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) – "Personally, I've been nervous. I've been scared in preparation for this budget in the past couple of years.  It's tough," said Gulfport Schools Superintendent Glen East.

That was how East described the budget crisis, as he outlined the cuts for the coming year.   East has had to chop more than $5.3 million from next year's budget. Those cuts include certain courses and operational costs like transportation and utilities. The biggest chunk comes from salaries.  All 400 teachers in the district could get a $3,000 cut in their local supplement.

"We've taken some car notes away from teachers.  We may have taken some apartment to rent away from teachers by cutting $3,000.  That's not fun.  That's not fun at all," said East.

Administrators and coaches face even deeper cuts. 

  • Administrative salary reductions: $3,000 to $10,000.  
  • Athletic supplemental reductions: $3,000 to $20,000.
  • Academic supplemental reductions: $3,000 to $15,000.

"We're also requiring our administrators to take a five-day vacation window.  Our school district will be closed, not open for business from July 1 - July 10.  That saves us on lights, water consumption, dumpster emptying, mops, mats, the whole nine yards," East said.

The school district will take an even bigger hit next year when money from the American Reinvestment Recovery Act runs out.  That's a loss of more than $1.6 million in federal funding. East will be asking the school board for a three mil increase to help absorb some of that loss.

"The three mills for us generates almost a million, right at $900,000," he said. "That helps us with our cash flow.  That helps us that we believe that between now and Christmas, there's probably going to be another reduction because ad valorem taxes, or sales taxes, have not increased."

East said even with a tax increase, it may not be enough.

"We will have to either through attrition or through reduction in force, lose some teachers the end of next year if things stay the same or get worse," said East.

And these are sacrifices he said everyone will have to make, to get the district through these tough times.

"You do what you have to do to take care of your family, and we do what we have to do to take care of the district," he said.

Here's a breakdown of how the three-mil increase could affect you.  If you own a $100,000 home in Gulfport, you would have to pay an extra $30 a year in ad valorem taxes.

You can hear the entire budget proposal and give your comments at a school board budget hearing.  It's set for Wednesday, June 30, at the Gulfport School District Administrative Building on Pass Road.  The meeting starts at 5:00 PM.

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