On the same day that teachers and parents rallied at the state Capitol in Jackson, to show support for the full funding of education, 45 Lauderdale County teachers were handed pink slips. It means their contracts are not renewed for the 2004-2005 school year.
The Mississippi House has passed a plan to fund public schools, but the Senate has not.
Superintendent David Little said that,with the Joint Legislative Budget Committee's current recommendations, Lauderdale County will receive $600,000 less in state funding than it did last year.
"What level are they going to fund us, we just don't know. We are already in the hole by $2 million. I can't take any chances. This is just the beginning. There are going to be some non-certified employees to lose their jobs, too," Little said.
On the other hand, Meridian superintendent Sylvia Autry said she will not be issuing pink slips due to the budget. Instead, she said Meridian Public Schools will be making cuts away from the classroom in the administrative ranks.
"It's going to mean about $1.5 million," Autry said. "Even if they were fully funded, we would still have to make cuts."
Right now it's a waiting game with little time. As for the teachers who were non-renewed, they could be rehired after budget questions are resolved, but some teachers face the possibility of not having jobs in the near future.
Wednesday marked the 100th day of the legislative session. House Education Chairman Bubba Pierce said there's no excuse for the state not to have a school funding plan.
About three dozen House members and a half dozen senators joined Pierce for a news conference in the Capitol rotunda Wednesday afternoon.
Teachers applauded when he said the House is will stand by a pledge to fully fund schools. At the same time one floor up, Gov. Haley Barbour and Lt. Gov. Amy Tuck had their own news conference.
Tuck said the Senate is 100 percent committed to paying for schools, but the Senate has not offered its own plan. She and Barbour called on the House to pass a bill already approved by the Senate, delaying the deadline for teacher contracts until May 15.
When the House reconvened late Wednesday afternoon, Pierce did not submit the deadline extension for a vote.
Thursday is the deadline for school districts to hire teachers for the coming year.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.