School budget anticipated state cuts
Thursday, September 10, 2009 12:01 AM
A $2.1 million cut in state funding wasn't a surprise to Madison County Superintendent Mike Kent who called it "business as usual" and said the district had anticipated it in their budget.
Gov. Haley Barbour ordered $171.9 million in budget cuts statewide Thursday blaming sluggish tax collections during the first two months of the fiscal year.
Cuts were ordered for all levels of state education, including the Mississippi Adequate Education Program (MAEP) which helps govern individual funding to school districts.
"We've got a budget storm on the horizon," Barbour said. "We can't avoid the storm. We know the best thing is to prepare early, act early."
Kent said they have learned to plan for such contingencies.
"We suspected this was going to happen," Kent said. "So we took five percent and rather than budgeting it towards expenses and salaries and things we couldn't cut, we simply budgeted it towards our fund balance."
Kent called it sad that legislators promise to fully fund education almost every year - especially during election years - but never follow through.
"It has become a hollow promise," Kent said. "They say it's fully funded, knowing all along they are going to come back and cut it.
"You get your money in 12 payments," Kent explained. "So if you start getting cut the third or fourth payment then it's not fully funded is it? But that's how the lawmakers and politicos are getting off the hook during the legislative session."
Kent said their main priority is maintaining the district's high level of achievement and that parents and students won't notice a difference because of the cuts.
Figures released by the state Tax Commission show Mississippi's overall tax collections fell 2 percent short of expectations in August. Combined with a shortfall in July, state collections were 5.9 percent behind for the first two months of the year.
The Associated Press Contributed to this story.