Education Budget Shortfalls Could Lead To Higher Taxes In Harrison County

Could education budget cuts land the state in court? The chairman of the House Education committee says it's possible. Representative Randy Pierce says other states have been sued for not putting enough money in education.

The budget passed was $45 million short of what educators said they needed. All districts are trying to figure out how to make up the money.

Harrison County is two million short. The superintendent says a tax increase may the only choice.

Danielle Thomas asked some tax payers what they think.

The Rogers are moving from Gulfport to Saucier. Thirteen year old Meghan is changing addresses, but not school districts. That means her father may soon have more tax money going to Harrison County schools.

"If it was a 100 or 200 dollars a year, that's a difference. But eight or nine dollars is nothing, as far as I'm concerned, for my child to have a good education," Jay Rogers said.

Eight or nine dollars doesn't sound like much to some homeowners, but others say when it's added to increased insurance costs and higher gas prices, their bills add up quickly. They believe the school district should reevalutate its priorities before asking for more money.

"They're not spending the money where it needs to be spent in the classrooms and buying equipment and that sort of thing. Teachers are always asking for bigger raises and I don't think we're seeing more quality in the schools," Homeowner Rob Young said.

Even if propety taxes go up, the hike will only generate about $400,000 of the $2 million shortfall.

"I'm just asking for the $400,000 that's being taken away from the school district... to maintain the intergrity that we had this year," Harrison County Schools Superintendent Henry Arledge said.

Harrison County taxpayers will get the chance to speak out on the proposed tax increase. There will be a public Hearing on June 21st at the school district office at 5:30.

The Pascagoula school district is also asking for an ad valorem tax increase.