Education budget means more money for some school districts

BILOXI, MS (WLOX) - Forced to slash $5 million from its budget last year, the Biloxi School District made the controversial decision to close three schools, including Nichols Elementary. It also laid off 17 teachers and did not fill 23 positions.

This week, Governor Haley Barbour signed a $2 Billion bill to fund K-12 education next year. The Biloxi School District expects to receive a bump in state funding, thanks to a boost in enrollment.

"We saw an increase of our district of about 200, 150 students, and that's going to equate to about half a million dollars, $600,000," said Biloxi Schools Superintendent Dr. Paul Tisdale.

Tisdale said the extra funding will help the district close a $1.25 million budget gap.

"I think we'll come close to closing that budget hole so that we should see roughly a balanced budget next year," said Tisdale.

Growth will also mean more money for the Harrison County School District. Remember last year, the district had to cut the salaries of every teacher and staff member. Administrators also lost five days of work.

"This year, we're going to reinstate all that money that we cut," said Harrison County Schools Superintendent Henry Arledge. "We will be better off this year. For example, we'd probably, it's going to be somewhere around $900,000 to $1 million more than we received last year from the state."

Local superintendents said their districts are still struggling financially and hope the state legislature will fully fund the Mississippi Adequate Education Program.

The executive director of the Mississippi Association of School Superintendents said some districts will actually get less funding next year because of drops in enrollment.

"Statewide, we had a reduction in force of around 2,000 certified teachers. That impacts a classroom," said Dr. Sam Bounds. "So we're working with a shoestring right now. We're asked to do a lot of things with less money."

School districts have to adopt their budget by August 15.

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