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Oxford and Lafayette County school districts approve budgets for upcoming year

For the first time the Oxford and Lafayette County school districts approved a budget without knowing what the final version will look like.

That is because Governor Tate Reeves vetoed the state’s $2.6 billion public education budget last month, creating unknowns and leaving school districts in the dark in how much money they will receive from the Mississippi Adequate Education Program (MAEP), that helps determine the amount of revenue expected for a fiscal year.

With school starting within the next week for both Oxford and Lafayette, the respective school boards of each approved a budget with what they are expecting to receive from the state, whenever that happens.

The Mississippi Legislature has been in recess since last month when a number of state legislators tested positive for COVID-19, including Lieutenant Governor Delbert Hosemann. With the Mississippi congress not able to reconvene and work out a new education budget, schools are having to go off estimates and educated guesses when framing a new budget amid a pandemic.

On Monday, the Lafayette County School District approved their budget with the expectation of receiving nearly the same amount in MAEP funds as they did last year, which was a little over $11.6 million. The district’s projected total operational revenue for 2020-21 is $29,754,248.

“I don’t know when we’re going to get an allocation,” said LCSD superintendent Dr. Adam Pugh during a budget work session last month.

The Board approved a budget without final numbers due to the fact a budget had to be approved and submitted by Aug. 15 to avoid putting the school district in a potential accreditation violation.

Lafayette County’s millage rate $161,000 a mil, which could increase LCSD’s currently projected ad volorem revenue of $8.25 million.

The budget also reflects a $333,951 increase in expenditures above revenue for operating expenses and a $501,457 increase in expenditures above revenue for debt retirement. Expenditures of note include $300,000 for purchase of new school buses, $250,000 for the need to purchase computer equipment to accommodate the increase in students choosing virtual learning — additional funds of approximately $750,000 is coming from the CARES Act.

Lafayette will also see an increase in utility expenses of around $100,000 to compensate for the new Lafayette Elementary School Building. The new building also caused an increase of $90,000 in insurance.

The largest portion of Lafayette’s expenditures comes from instruction, which is around $16.6 to $16.8 million and includes payroll, supplies and all other expenses related to educating students.

The Oxford School District’s Board of Trustees approved their budget during their July 27 board meeting. The school district is not requesting a rise in its millage rate for the upcoming school year and avoiding a raise in school taxes.

Following a public hearing on the budget on July 20, OSD did not have any changes when the Board approved its budget a week later.

The projected revenue for OSD is $60,593,104 with $17 million of that expected to come from the state in the form of the MAEP allocation. The largest expense for Oxford is also payroll, which totals $25.6 million. About $3.7 million goes toward instructional support services and $2.3 million on school administration salaries, which did not increase in this year’s proposed budget.

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