TPSD budget approved, no tax hikes sought

By Chris Kieffer/NEMS Daily Journal

TUPELO – The Tupelo School Board on Tuesday approved the district’s $84.1 million budget, with no tax increase.
The budget is $1.1 million less than the one it approved to begin the 2009-2010 school year. It is funded by $33.8 million from local sources, $31.1 million from the state and $12.8 million from the federal government. Other funding comes from various sources like proceeds from loans and leases.
The district will be appropriated about $29.2 million under the Mississippi Adequate Education Program, about $1.1 million more than last year.
However, last year’s funding was cut by 7.6 percent, or $2.3 million, during the year, and the district is preparing for as much as a 15 percent cut this year.
The district had been appropriated $30.4 million last year before taking the cuts. It received just over $28 million.
TPSD Director of Finance Linda Pannell said the district’s budget will set aside 15 percent of the money it is expected to receive from the state. It will not release that money until it receives it. If that money is not cut by the state, some of it will go to schools to use for instructional supplies and some of it will be spent at Superintendent Randy Shaver’s discretion, Pannell said.
Bracing for possible funding cuts this year, the district reduced its teaching force by 29 teachers and 16 assistant teachers. The district will employ 603 teachers and 123 assistant teachers.
Many of the reductions of licensed teachers were the result of not filling some positions that came open. Some spots also were lost when the district contracted with an outside company to run its alternative school. That company, Ombudsman Educational Services, hired the staff for that school.
The district will spend $45.4 million on instruction, $25.3 million on support services and $7 million on debt service.
The cost of several new programs the district will employ include $105,000 for a culinary arts vocational class, $780,000 for the school improvement department, $370,000 for the High School Advancement Academy, $562,000 for Ombudsman and $390,000 for the School-Aged Mothers program.

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