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SP Budget Cuts

South Panola District could lose $1 million with state cut 

By Rupert Howell

South Panola Schools Superintendent Dr. Keith Shaffer told school trustees Tuesday that the district would be cut around a million dollars during the current school year.

Shaffer said, “Without anything else  happening it (the cut) is a million right now.”

The proposed cuts are coming from state government, which is reeling from the current recession.

The district superintendent said he did not foresee any job losses.

“We will do what we do more efficiently,” Shaffer stated, noting that the bulk of funds being lost were in MAEP funds that reimburses schools for what they pay teachers.

School systems across the state as well as other state agencies continue to face belt tightening budget cuts reflecting decreasing revenue brought about by the continued recession.

Shaffer said the district would dip into the fund balance, a five percent cushion recommended to be kept on hand by the State Department of Audit, and cut back in other areas. He gave an example that if the school had budgeted to buy six buses, four with state Education Enhancement Funds and two with local and other funding, they might cut back to four bus purchases.

Trustees approved moving a million dollars into the capital improvements account while trying to keep funds available for building projects or major maintenance planned for the near future. Shaffer said later that the district is not doing  major projects this year.

After a year of using a temporary service to supply and administer substitute teachers, the district has gone back to administering the substitutes as before.

Shaffer had tried to simplify the process by using the service during the 2008-09 school year saying from the beginning that it was a trial. He had originally explained to board members that even if the temp service was revenue neutral, avoiding the the bookkeeping involved in having all substitutes on the district’s payroll would be a benefit.

The temporary service was more expensive than projected and Shaffer told board members that the district would realize savings by going back to the former method of acquiring substitute teachers.

Representing both the South Panola Foundation for Education and the South Panola Athletic Foundation, Kenny Hopper asked for support from board members in both areas.

He asked board members and principals to be sure and purchase South Panola car tags that helps fund the education association and asked that $10,000 be budgeted for the Athletic Foundation to help pay the debt for the artificial surface on Tiger Field.

Hopper explained that local businesses, industry and individuals paid approximately $500,000 of the $700,000-plus debt and that fundraisers and additional assistance was being sought to retire the remaining debt.

He stated that an estimated $25,000 had been saved by the district in field maintenance and asked the board for $10,000 to help defray the debt.

The foundation chairman was told that the request would be considered when the board worked on the 2010-2011 budget.