School proposes budget of $44.4 million

Published 1:28 pm Monday, June 24, 2019

Ad valorem millage will not increase under projected numbers

By Jeremy Weldon

South Panola School District will have a budget of $44.4 million serving 4,226 students on six campuses, according to a proposal presented to trustees at Tuesday’s regular meeting of the school board.

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David Rubenstein, director of finance and business operations, made his annual presentation to board members, which includes the budget due to be adopted for July and a variety of other summaries from the district office.

Of the proposed $44.4 million budget, revenues from state sources are expected to be $24 million (56 percent) and $6.7 million from federal coffers (16 percent). Local sources, mostly ad valorem taxes from properties inside the district will account for nearly $12 million, or 28 percent of the budget.

Half of the school district’s funding comes from the State Legislature through the Mississippi Adequate Education Program. Local taxpayers will contribute about $9.2 million directly through tax payments. The district will also receive more than $900,000 in donations the report said.

USDA is expected to divert $2.6 million to South Panola and Title I programs will account for another $1.7 million.

The operating budget, those revenues and expenditures that cover the cost of day-to-day school activities excluding all other sources of money or debits, show a projected income of $34.4 million with expenses of $34.5 million.

The proposed overall budget is close to the budgets adopted in recent years, with little variation. Actual revenues in 2017 and 2018, for example, were within a $400,000 of the 2019 budget. The slight increase for 2020 can be attributed to the new fieldhouse and indoor facility.

The district will spend about $25 million of the budget (56 percent) on direct instructional services and another $15.7 million in support services. Debt service is expected to take up two percent of the budget at just under $1 million.

Salaries and benefits for employees is the largest expenditure – $24.3 million (55 percent) for salaries and $8.7 million (20 percent) for benefits. Supplies are eight percent of the budget, followed by a litany of professional services and property purchased by districts during academic years.

Based on a projected 4,276 students, the cost per student in the proposed budget is $10,385. Excluding facilities acquisitions, construction, and debt service, the cost per student is $10,121.

Rubenstein’s report also included information about the 332 teachers currently employed by the school district. Of those,  174 (54 percent) hold bachelor degrees, 138 (42 percent) have masters, 17 (5 percent) have specialists, and three (1 percent) have doctorates.

The average teacher salary in South Panola Schools is $44,200.

In years of experience, 29 percent have 0-4 years; 17 percent have 5-9; 20 percent have 10-14; 16 percent have 15-19; 11 percent have 20-24; 3 percent have 25-29; and 4 percent have taught more than 30 years.

Total millage rate to support the proposed budget will be 60.50, the same as 2019. That figure is six mils less than taxpayers were assessed in the years 2015-1018.