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franklin county times

Little: Uncertain time for school funding

By Staff
David Little recently spoke with The Meridian Star's Editorial Board. Photo by Carisa McCain/The Meridian Star
By Steve Gillespie/The Meridian Star
June 18, 2001
Lauderdale County School Superintendent David Little says people have been asking him if there is any way to avoid a proposed 1.7 mill ad valorem tax increase.
Little met with The Meridian Star's editorial board last week, the day after a public hearing on the budget. The Lauderdale County School Board is scheduled to formally adopt the budget Friday.
Little said that when the employee who oversaw the district's operations retired, he was not replaced. A photographer who worked at the media center was "let go," and last year when Little's secretary retired, a person in the business department added those duties to her existing job description.
Salaries have been frozen. A librarian and eight teachers who retired have not been replaced. Plans to build a new alternative school have been shelved and construction of an eight-room science wing at Clarkdale Attendance Center may be postponed.
If the economy does not grow at the estimated amount, the district's minimum program money to pay teacher salaries will be cut. Little said the district may lose about $405,000 in the worst case scenario.
Struggle for money
Money cut from the district's minimum program funds under the current budget totaled $205,000 and overtime expenses cost the district $184,000 this school year.
Little said the cold winter was a factor in the district's shortfall.
Closing the gap
Little is confident greater student achievement will be seen in the district. Are Lauderdale County schools all achieving on the same level? "Not yet, necessarily," Little said.
Little said some schools have a high number of children from impoverished families. "That's where we have to close the gap," Little said. "We have to back up and be sure that we don't leave those children behind that come from the families where they haven't had the advantages."
He said Parents As Teachers and Success for All are programs that are helping the district to address students' early childhood needs. Lauderdale County schools have had the programs in place for two years.
Steve Gillespie is a staff writer for The Meridian Star. Call him at 693-1551, ext. 3233, or e-mail him at sgillespie@themeridianstar.com.