PRC School Board speaks to local legislatures

Published 7:00 am Friday, May 9, 2014

At Monday night’s Pearl River County School District board meeting, Mississippi Sens. Angela Hill and Tony Smith addressed state educational funding.

Superintendent Alan Lumpkin said the board invited the senators to discuss educational funding and express their concerns with the inadequate Mississippi Adequate Education Program funding for the past few years.

Lumpkin said MAEP has been underfunded for the last few years, which has caused many financial challenges for the school district.

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He said the school district recently found out they will receive the same amount of MAEP funding as last year.

A teacher’s salary increases with each year of experience they gain, meaning each year the district has to find ways to cover their increasing payroll, Lumpkin said. He said even though an additional $175,000 was allocated to the district to cover the new state teacher pay raises, it doesn’t address the problem of covering a teachers’ salary as they move up the pay scale.

“There was a teacher pay raise and the MAEP was raised to cover the pay raise, but deficient in the covering the other expenses,” Lumpkin said.

Another expense that increases each year is the cost of insurance and conducting daily school business, Lumpkin said.

Hill and Smith listened to the school board’s description of the problem, but explained they face the same challenges in funding everything on the state level, Lumpkin said.

The senators used charts to demonstrate how funding is distributed on the state level and what percentage is given to each sector of the government, Lumpkin said.

The board asked if a percentage of the surplus in state revenue from last year could be allocated to MAEP funding to help relieve the funding pressure for school districts.

Also at the meeting, the board approved the new teacher pay scale, which includes the teacher pay raises. Despite the funding challenges, Lumpkin said he approves of the teacher pay raise.

“We’ll deal with the challenges that brings because it’s a well-deserved pay raise,” Lumpkin said.

Also at the meeting, the board approved the resignation of Pearl River Central Middle School Assistant Principal Austin Alexander.

Lumpkin said due to budget challenges, the administrative team is still discussing what to do with the position at this time.

The meeting ended after the board went into executive session to discuss student matters. Student matters aren’t public record.

The next school board meeting will take place June 2 at 6:30 p.m.