It’s budget time again for the public schools in Mississippi. In Hancock County, no matter how you slice the pie, there is less revenue available due to the decrease in ad valorem taxes–high percentage of abandoned properties. The mil actually devalued here this year according to the Tax Collector’s Office.
Add to this increased insurance costs, PERS coming out of local funds this year, and no real increase in enrollment for Bay-Waveland School District. According to school records there an increase of only 9 students as of this time last year. Remember “headcount” matters every morning to determine support from the State.
To make matters worse for our school districts statewide, as of July 1, new legislation will require little Johnny to be present 63% of the day to be counted present. No more arriving at 7:30, leaving at 8:00 and still being counted present resulting in state funding. The State Auditor, Stacey Pickering, was quoted in the Sun-Herald on June 14, as saying he has never like the Average Daily Attendance Formula because it cannot be audited. Imagine that!
Twenty years ago the Miss. Legislature commissioned a study on the spending of tax dollars by public school officials. Their findings were: Too many school districts (152) and too much money spent on administration. Their recommendations: consolidation of districts and using the savings in the classroom for teachers and students.
Currently in Hancock County we have two districts totaling 6,379 students (Hancock 4,435, and Bay-Waveland 1,944.) The two Administrative Office costs to the taxpayers this fiscal year was Hancock: $7,368,441 and Bay-Waveland: $4,316,275 for a total of $11,684,716. This exceeds Bay St. Louis’ current budget of $9.3 million to run the entire city.
Within the last four years Missississippi had the second highest paid State Superintendent of Education in the nation and the lowest test scores.
When will our school officials stop throwing money at the top, stop being so stubborn (20 years is long enough) about joining with our neighbors, and make some serious decisions about cost cutting that will most definitely benefit our students and teachers?
Until they do, the public school children in Miss.will continue to suffer from politics.
Lana Noonan, Chairman
Ames Kergosien, Co-Chairman
Hancock County Alliance for Good Government