School Board approves budget with no tax increase

By Chuck Bailey

The Choctaw Plaindealer

Budget Hearing

The Choctaw County School Board recently held its public hearing regarding its proposed school district budget for fiscal year 2017 Friday, June 17 at the Central Office.

The school board plans to operate on a $22,199,084 budget for the 2016-2017 school year, which begins July 1. 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.

Superintendent, Stewart G. Beard, Jr., spoke to the school board to provide an overview of the proposed fiscal year 2016-2017 budget.

Beard began the meeting by pointing out that revenue comes into the district from three sources: 35% State, 52% local, and 12% federal. This year, the district expects a total of $ 22,199,084 in revenue.

With regard to expenditures, Mr. Beard noted that the district spends around 34.8% of its budget on instruction of students. “Our budget doesn’t take into consideration a previous balance,” explained Beard. “For example we transferred four million into the building projects fund we are anticipating the project to be four million and next year we will transfer three million back into it, so that is a negative balance of 1 million to that account. We are actually looking to increase our district maintenance fund by over $500,000 dollars. So we are in balance and we are operating in the black rather than the red and that is why it gives the appearance of a negative number (-$582,342.76).”

Utilities were only 2.6 % of the entire budget. Fuel, utilities, and insurance costs continue to vary each year.

As always, challenges are many,” Beard said. “Once again MAEP (Mississippi Adequate Education Program) is not fully funded by being at 92.93%. This may not seem like much, but it amounts to a $512,000 dollar shortfall to the district. Additional funding cutbacks are anticipated in the coming year.

Beard also reiterated that this budget would not affect taxpayers. “Choctaw County taxpayers should know that the school district expects no increase in Ad Valorem taxes,” Beard said.

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

“Overall we are in the top 20 academically in the state,” said Beard.

Last year Choctaw County Schools were in the top 25.

“We have done away with all the school supply lists,” said Beard. “So our parents don’t have to pay for school supplies for their children.”

Beard then went through a list of rankings academically.

“Ag Power Core and Power II has the highest cPass scores in the state,” said Beard. “AEST Program, Plants and Concepts both are ranked in the top ten in the state. Construction Core is in the top five in the state. Culinary I is in the top ten in the state and we are very excited about these rankings.”

“Last year the 2015 seniors earned over $600,000 dollars in scholarships,” said Beard. This year the 2016 seniors earned over $700,000 dollars in scholarships.”

“People are seeing this and are wanting to come and be a part of our district,” said Beard.

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.

Budget Adoption Meeting

The Choctaw County School Board held its budget adoption hearing Friday, June 24 at the Central Office.

The meeting began with the adoption of the agenda, followed by a discussion to make a motion to accept the 2016-2017 budget for the school district.

School Board member Clint Huffman made the motion to accept the budget and Board member Linda McDaniel seconded the motion. The motion to accept the 2016-2017 budget passed unanimously.

The Choctaw County Board of Education will hold its next meeting Tuesday, July 11, 2016 at 7:00 p.m. at the Central Office. The public is invited to attend.