Private schools see textbook funds cut from state budget

Private schools see textbook funds cut from state budget

BILOXI, MS (WLOX) - Cuts in the Mississippi Department of Education are having an effect on private schools. These cuts could cost some schools hundreds of thousands of dollars.

The school year had already gotten underway when Dr. Mike Ladner, Superintendent of schools with the Biloxi Diocese, got a notification about a big blow to his budget.

"All non-public schools who are accredited by the Mississippi Department of Education will not be allocated textbook funds for the 2017-2018 school year," said Ladner.

This spells trouble for private school districts like the Biloxi Diocese, with its 14 schools and 3,600 students.

"You're talking probably about over $300,000," said Ladner.

That kind of money isn't easy to come by for any school. Private schools mostly rely on tuition. According to Ladner, tuition is where his district would have to turn.

"If it stayed like it was, we would certainly have to raise tuition to the parents. We would have to pass along the cost to the parents," said Dr. Ladner.

While no one likes a tuition hike, what Ladner said is an even bigger blow is that this particular cut isn't happening to public schools, even though his parents pay the same sales tax that helps buy the books.

"It's fine. We understand you've got to have cuts if it's equitable across the board. Don't take just from non-public schools," said Cindy Hahn, who is entering her fifth year as principal at Our Lady of Fatima Elementary.

Hahn and other principals throughout the district buy books annually, and they're hoping lawmakers change their tune and the cut changes for next year.

"Hopefully it will, if people will write and call and bombard them with how unfair this is for non-public schools," said Hahn.

WLOX reached out to the state department of education. A spokeswoman for the department couldn't answer why the textbook funds for public schools weren't being cut. She did tell us that all programs were evaluated and that there was a 22 percent cut for the entire department.

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