Schools Wondering How To Cope With Budget Crisis

Some Coast teachers Biloxi said Wednesday that they are surprised and worried about the looming budget crisis. Gov. Ronnie Musgrove is expected to announce cuts in education soon. In addition, lawmakers are recommending $111 million less than what Mississippi schools are asking for next year's budget.

That means schools district may have to trim personnel from administrators to janitors. Certain programs like sports and technology could also face cutbacks. Teachers say that would only end up hurting Mississippi's children.

First graders at Beauvoir Elementary are putting their hearts into their class project. They're learning how to use a computer to make Valentines.

But if the Biloxi school district is forced to cut its budget, the technology program could be hit.

"These are newer computers, but once they need to upgrade, we won't be able to do that," teacher Becky Lucas said. "We have to use older, slower computers."

Pulling the plug on technology spending, Lucas said, will be a step back for Mississippi.

"If we want Mississippi, our economy to stay up with everybody and stay strong and healthy, we have to be able to educate our children," she said. "Technology is part of that, and we're doing a good job, and it would be a terrible shame to stop doing that now."

School sports programs could also take a hit should schools face a freeze in spending. Biloxi athletic director Ken Hall is looking at several ways to save money, like not purchasing some equipment or new uniforms, and curbing travel for the teams.

"Instead of maybe going on some of the chartered buses and that type of thing, we'd have to cut back and take school buses," Hall said. "We may have to look at maybe cutting some games back as a result of some travel."

Biloxi's superintendent is considering other ways to cover the possible budget shortfall, including raising lunch prices, and canceling summer school. School superintendents across South Mississippi will meet Thursday to discuss ways to handle the budget crisis.