Tupelo Schools present budget

news_education_greenBy Chris Kieffer

Daily Journal

TUPELO – The Tupelo Public School District is proposing a $97.8 million budget that will not require a tax increase.

District leaders presented their budget for the upcoming school year during a public hearing Tuesday at Hancock Leadership Center. The district’s school board is expected to vote upon it during its next meeting on Aug. 12.

The budget anticipates $85.4 million in revenue. The reason expenditures are greater than revenue is that the district has an $8.04 million savings fund set aside for emergency construction projects. Although it does not anticipate spending that money, it is included as an expenditure in the budget in case it is needed.

Also, finance director Linda Pannell said, state cuts may cause the district to have to spend some of its fund balance. The district has been cut by about $20 million in state funding over the last several years, she said.

It also did not receive enough money from the state to cover the cost of the teacher pay raise approved by the Legislature last year. That means it must use other funds to pay for part of it.

However, Pannell said, the budget allows room for spending that likely will not be needed. She does not expect the fund balance will fall much below its current level, which is about $27 million. Typically the district spends less than it budgets, she said.

Funding includes $33.3 million from local sources, $32.9 million from the state, $8.97 million from federal sources and $10.1 million from other sources, including inter-fund transfers. Superintendent Gearl Loden said the district is thankful to receive more funding from local taxes than it does in the state, a privilege he said many districts do not have.

Major budget initiatives include $1.4 million for the one-to-one computer initiative, $486,000 for testing, $585,000 for the department of curriculum and instruction, $500,000 for training, $560,000 for the structured day program, $250,000 for teacher technology tools and $500,000 for textbooks.

Broken down by source, the district will spend $49.6 million, or 50 percent, on instruction. It includes $10.4 million on facilities and construction services, $8.6 million for operational services and $6 million on debt services, among others.

Loden said the district also will consider a 2-3 percent pay raise to all non-teaching staff, if funds allow. Teachers already received a raise from the Legislature.

chris.kieffer@journalinc.com