Lee Schools OK budget with no tax hike

By Chris Kieffer/NEMS Daily Journal

TUPELO – The Lee County School Board approved a $56.8 million budget on Tuesday that does not call for a tax increase.
Although the budget will be $2.4 million less than the one approved last year, it will allow the 6,700-student district to add five new teaching positions. The new budget goes into effect on July 1.
The new positions include a math teacher at Guntown, English teachers at Mooreville and Saltillo High Schools and teachers at Saltillo Primary and Verona Elementary. The district will also add an assistant principal at Shannon High to oversee a new freshman academy and an assistant teacher at Saltillo Primary.
The school district will split the cost of adding school resource officers at Verona Elementary and Guntown Middle. The town of Guntown will pay the rest of the cost for its SRO, while the Lee County Sheriff’s Department could pay the other half of the SRO at Verona, if it approves that cost in its budget.
Adding those officers would give the school district a SRO on each of its campuses.
Lee County’s budget will be funded by about $17.3 million from local sources, $32.4 million from the state and $5.9 million from the federal government.
The budget includes $56.2 million in revenue and $56.8 million in expenditures. The difference will come from money the school district already had on hand from the federal education jobs bill that passed in August 2010.
Lee County Schools had saved the $1.4 million the district received at that time and will use about $600,000 of that money this year, said business manager Randy Thweatt.
The budget spends $36.3 million on student instruction (63.9 percent), $5.4 million on operations and maintenance, $3.5 million on note and bond repayments, $3.3 million on school administration, $3.3 on cafeteria services, $3 million on student transportation and $1.3 million on general administration.
The operation and maintenance budget is about $2.3 million less this year than it was last year because of one-time federal stimulus money Lee County Schools received last year. It used that money to replace window air units with central air at several of its schools.
The school district’s operational millage rate of 49.89 is expected to remain the same, although the Board of Supervisors has ultimate authority in setting that rate.

Contact Chris Kieffer at (662) 678-1590 or chris.kieffer@journalinc.com

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