Money for teacher pay, supplies, classroom dominate budgets
BUDGET MEETING Lauderdale County school officials discuss the school district's annual budget. The Lauderdale County School Board approved the budget last week. Pictured are, from left, Assistant Superintendent Ed Mosley; school board members Barbara Jones, Scott Sollie and Dale Smith; Superintendent David Little; and board president Robbie Hales. PHOTO BY PAULA MERRITT / THE MERIDIAN STAR
By Lynette Wilson / staff writer
July 21, 2002
More than half of the Meridian and Lauderdale County public school district budgets will help fund teacher salaries, teacher supplies and other classroom expenses for the next school year.
The money is included in the funding category of "instruction" which makes up about 58 percent of the city school district budget and about 57 percent of the county school district budget.
And Ed Lynch, one of five members on the Meridian School Board, said that's not enough.
The Meridian and Lauderdale County school boards approved their budgets last week for the fiscal year that started July 1. The budgets fund the 2002-2003 school year that starts next month.
The Meridian Public School District will spend about $47 million this year, up slightly from the $46 million it spent last year.
The Lauderdale County Public School District will spend about $39 million this year, up from the $36 million last year.
Mississippi's 152 public school districts receive state financial support through the Mississippi Adequate Education Program.
But with Mississippi in the midst of its worst budget crunch in years, state education funds were cut during the 2001-2002 school year forcing school districts to find other sources.
Ralph McDonald, budget director for the Mississippi Department of Education, said that state support for public schools this year will be about $60 million short for all districts.
Despite that, McDonald said, state support will still provide public school teachers statewide including Meridian and Lauderdale County school districts about a 6 percent, $70 million pay raise.
Statewide, the average pay for a public school teacher with a bachelor's degree and 10 years of experience will be $29,150.
Average pay will be $31,850 in Meridian and $30,750 in Lauderdale County. Averages vary from district to district based on the amount of local salary supplements each one provides teachers.
Area teachers said they are pleased.
Suzanne Smith, chief financial officer for the Meridian school district, said the state's financial problems left the school district $100,000 short in funding teacher pay raises this year.
Smith said the school district had to find money for the pay raise in other areas of the budget.