School board holds budget hearing

By Daniel Brunty
The Choctaw Plaindealer

Budget Hearing
The Choctaw County School Board recently held its public hearing regarding its proposed school district budget for fiscal year 2016 on June 12 at the Central Office.

The school board plans to operate on a $21,794,985 budget for the 2015-2016 school year. In previous board meetings, the decision has been made not to request an increase in the ad valorem tax effort by Choctaw County School District and should not contribute to an increase in the ad valorem millage rate.
One person from the public attended the public hearing. Superintendent, Stewart G. Beard, Jr., spoke to the audience to provide an overview of the proposed fiscal year 2015-2016 budget.

The district is expecting total projected revenue of $18,928,579 for the 2014-2015 fiscal year. Mr. Beard began the meeting by pointing out that revenue comes into the district from 3 sources: 34% State, 55% local, and 11% federal. This year, the district expects a total of $ 21,794,985 in revenue. With regard to expenditures, Mr. Beard noted that the district spends around 42% of its budget on instruction of students.

“As always, challenges are many,” Beard said. “Once again MAEP is not fully funded by being at 91.84%. This may not seem like much, but it amounts to a shortage in revenue of $594,898. Additional funding cutbacks are anticipated in the coming year. We are currently updating and replacing technology to prepare for the new Questar Testing. This is quite expensive but necessary. Fuel, utilities, and insurance costs continue to vary each year.”

Beard also reiterated that this budget will not affect taxpayers. “Choctaw County taxpayers should know that the school district expects no increase in Ad Valorem taxes,” Beard said. “Our budget is balanced, even with a proposed major construction project included in the budget. Our total revenues exceed our expenditures for the 2015-2016 school year.”

Not only did beard speak of the budget, he also reiterated some of the positives that the school district can certainly be proud of.

“There are many positives associated with the Choctaw County School District,” Beard said. “We are in the top 25 academically in the State of Mississippi! Our newly added Driver’s Education program has been a resounding success. Ag Power has the 2nd highest CPAS scores in the State. Our culinary arts program is only in its second year and we have students winning statewide and further competing nationally. This year our senior graduates earned over $620,000 in scholarships.”

Superintendent Beard expressed his appreciation for the hard work of the students, faculty and staff and thanks the citizens of Choctaw County for their dedication and support of the Choctaw County School District. His motto is to Keep Charging Forward!

Budget Adoption Meeting
The Choctaw County School Board held its budget adoption hearing on June 19 at the Central Office. Beat 1 Board Member Derek Hunt was not present during the meeting.

The meeting began with the adoption of the agenda, followed by a discussion to make a motion on the 2015-2016 budget for the school district. Each board members was given a copy of the facts and figures of the budget to review.

Following a brief discussion and a few questions by the board members, Beat 5 board member Mike Thomas made a motion to accept the budget, which was seconded by Beat 4 board member Laura Gibbs. The motion was passed unanimously by the board members.

The next item of discussion regarded the property surrounding Dale Davidson Field. Within the past few months, the board has acquired some of the properties surrounding the field. With a few more locations around the field that are privately owned, Superintendent Glen Beard asked the board for permission to negotiate on behalf of the school district to purchase these locations. He also asked permission to negotiate on other properties regarding their upcoming building project.

Thomas made a motion to allow Beard to negotiate, which was seconded by Beat 3 board member Linda Henderson. The motion was passed unanimously by the board.

In other news, the board:
Approved summer painting projects for Weir Elementary School
Approved easements and road maintenance agreement

The Choctaw County School Board will hold its next meeting on July 7, 2015 at the Central Office.