School Districts Brace for More Potential Cuts

When lawmakers return to Jackson to pass a budget, one of the big items on the agenda will be education.

Already this fiscal year, the budget for education has been slashed by about eight percent. The question now is, will there be even more cuts?

"We've been anticipating cuts," said Dr. Terry Larabee, interim superintendent of Meridian Public Schools. "We've been anticipating a cut that's going to affect us by $4.5 million this year."

To offset more possible cuts, Larabee says the district is further implementing cost-cutting initiatives, such as trying to save on electric bills, not filling positions of faculty members who retire and preparing for personnel cuts.

Larabee said it's too early to determine how many personnel could be affected at MPSD. However, he said some of those individuals could start being notified as early the next few weeks.

For the current fiscal year, the Lauderdale County School District has been cut by about $3 million. With lawmakers saying they will not be able to fully fund education next year, superintendent Randy Hodges says the district could lose another $3 million in state funds.

To curb expenses, Hodges says the district plans to avoid job cuts by utilizing furloughs.

"Which that just means that we would possibly reduce employees work days by two. These would not be instructional days. They would be staff development days," Hodges said.

According to state Sen. Videt Carmichael, chairman of the Senate Education Committee, there could be some good news for schools. He said if the economy does not get any worse, school districts' budgets will likely remain the same as they are now.

"We're trying to make it where there won't be any cuts," said Carmichael. "They'll know the dollar amount going in. Hopefully that dollar amount will maintain throughout the fiscal year and we won't have to make more cuts."

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