Slimmer budget for 2009-10 school year wins board’s OK

Published 12:00 am Friday, April 10, 2009

Without comment, trustees of the Vicksburg Warren School District on Thursday unanimously adopted a slimmer budget for next school year.

Reflecting lower revenues, the $78,662,518 spending plan is about $1.7 million less than that for the current year, which ends June 30.

The reduced spending is $1.8 million in salaries and benefits and nearly $700,000 in property/purchased services, which include utilities, custodial, repairs and maintenance, insurance, and similar expenses. Increases totalling close to $1 million were budgeted for professional services and equipment/renovations.

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The total anticipated revenue for the coming year, $74,782,142, is $2.6 million less than this year, largely due to anticipated cuts in state allocations.

In the fall, in response to predicted state shortfalls, Gov. Haley Barbour ordered 5 percent reductions in almost all categories of state spending, including the Mississippi Adequate Education Program, which funds more than half the local school budget annually.

Superintendent James Price said during budget hearings March 19 that with more cuts possible due to the faltering economy, “it seemed prudent to us to budget that in.”

Despite a legal ad that has been appearing in The Vicksburg Post containing confusing, but state-required language, the budget will not require any change in local tax rates.

No teacher layoffs are expected, Price said. Through attrition, the district expects to eliminate 10 to 12 of its approximately 600 teaching positions to accommodate most of the salary cuts, and some non-licensed staff in custodial and food-service departments will become contracted positions, saving the district employment tax payments and benefit costs.

Last month Price said that enrollments are not expected to be down in the coming year, but “we will do a better job of scheduling.” Many of the staff reductions will be at the secondary level, he said, where some currently smaller class sections can be redesigned. “And there are some positions at the alternative school that we can combine.”

Though the budget funds fewer teaching positions, instructional costs will increase slightly, from 53.67 percent to 53.89 percent. Price said before the public hearing on the budget March 19 that this was due to pay increases for which employees with more than 25 years of service are eligible.

Board members Tommy Shelton and James Stirgus Jr. were not at the meeting but voted by conference call over speaker phones.

The budget was enacted earlier than the usual late-May or early-June this spring, and may end up being amended to reflect an infusion of federal stimulus money.


Contact Pamela Hitchins at