As required by law, the Meridian Public School District held a public hearing on its proposed budget for the coming fiscal year.
"Our budget is in excess of $55 million," said interim superintendent Sylvia Autry. "We want the public to know what our intent is for spending those funds. Indirectly everything we are spending will impact student performance."
The impact of federal dollars on instruction and dollars received for special education were discussed at the hearing. There was also a question and answer period for the general public. But John Q. Public didn't show up. .
"The complacency and apathy for public education in the community is just appalling to me," said Tommy Little, president of Parents for Public Schools. "I don't know what's more distressing, the fact that the schools seem to be failing or the fact that the community cares so little."
The district also laid out its tax plan for the year. "We plan for an additional 2.5 mills and at the same time project that debt service mills will go down by 1.7," said chief financial officer, Suzanne Smith.
"Therefore the public can expect a tax increase in excess of a little more than a half of a mill."
Smith said in dollars and cents, Smith said it would mean a very small increase. "I would say an increase of less than $3 to $5 a year for the average homeowner in Meridian," Smith said.
The district contends the increase is needed to offset a possible 5 percent budget deficit in state funds during 2003-2004.