School Funding Forum searches for creative answers to budget cuts - - The News for South Mississippi

School Funding Forum searches for creative answers to budget cuts


By Trang Pham-Bui – bio | email

GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) - Volunteers and businesses are reaching out to south Mississippi schools that are struggling through this budget crisis. On Monday, the non-profit group Hands-On Mississippi hosted a School Funding Forum in Gulfport. Educators learned where to find free programs and grants to help their schools.

They heard about programs that allow teachers to earn credits without leaving their homes. They also learned about grants, lesson plans, business partnerships and volunteers that are available for schools.

"There are just a lot of things they said they could help us with, so I'm excited about that," said Cissy Hutchins, a teacher at Central Elementary School in Gulfport.

Hutchins was among 20 teachers, administrators and parents who gathered at a "School Funding Forum" in Gulfport on Monday. They learned how to take advantage of various resources in the community they may not know even existed.

"There are a lot of things that are free that we just need to know about, so I want to get all that information," said Hutchins. "There are things out there that we can use to help with grant writing, tutoring with the children and one of the programs would even pay teachers."

Hands On Mississippi hosted the roundtable discussion to share different ideas to help schools overcome funding and other educational challenges.

"Trying to identify what resources we can identify right now to the schools, free, volunteer and in-kind. So we are collectively sharing some of the load of educating our children," said Catherine Gautier, Executive Director of Hands On Mississippi.

"We struggle to find the best possible environment for our children and the best possible opportunities but under very limited finances. So any of these opportunities to pursue grants or to network with other people is just a blessing for us," said Sr. Mary Jo Mike, principal of Nativity BVM in Biloxi.

The brainstorming session gave educators some creative solutions as they struggle to cope with the budget crisis. The follow-up workshop is scheduled for July. For more information on the program, contact Hands On Mississippi at (228) 354-9660.

In August, Hands On Mississippi will launch two college scholarship programs to assist people who volunteer in the community.

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