By ALICE ORTIZ
AMORY – Monroe County teachers were still without contracts as of Friday, May 22.
County school officials have been waiting on the state legislature to finalize funding.
The legislative session was to reconvene May 26, but Monroe County Superintendent of Education Scott Cantrell said normally contracts are given out in late April or May.
“We usually have a budget from the legislature by mid-April,” he said.
“Just last week, we received some information from Mississippi Superintendent of Education Dr. Hank Bounds about what to expect as far as a budget for next year is concerned. People may or may not know the House version fully funds Mississippi Adequate Education Program (MAEP), and the Senate version would cut the district about $57,000, while the governor’s version would cut the district some $160,000.”
Cantrell said they have been warned of a possible 20 percent cut in Title 2 funds for next year.
“We thought it best to be cautious in awarding contracts at this time. We anticipate being able to rehire all of our teachers from the 2008-2009 school year, along with any replacements for the jobs we have advertised thus far,” Cantrell said.
Earlier in the year as the county received word on who would be retiring, they chose to eliminate six positions throughout the county this year, which they anticipate will take care of any cuts coming down to the district.
“We, along with several other area districts, have chosen to be cautious until we get a definite budget figure from the legislature,” said Cantrell. “We hope we receive our budget from them within a couple of days of their session beginning May 26.”
Cantrell said they hoped while they waited that they will not lose to another district any of their quality teachers while they wait who has the fund balance to pay teacher salaries should MAEP funding be less than the full amount.
“We hope to have the contracts out by the last week in May or the first week in June,” he said.
Cantrell also stated that the county does not have a definite budget figure from the legislature concerning National Board Certified teacher supplemental pay.
“Make no mistake about it, the Mississippi Code gives full responsibility for the funding for this program to the state legislature, not the local school district,” Cantrell said. “Again the district is being cautious as far as this is concerned. When we receive a final budget number, we will work from there. We certainly hope that each of our 32 National Board teachers receive all the legislature originally promised them.”
Cantrell said contracts have been given out after school had already begun in past years, but normally contracts are given by the end of the school year.