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Lafayette County School District approves 2019-20 budget

Ahead of the new school year, the Lafayette County School District’s Board of Trustees approved their budget for Fiscal Year 2020.

The estimated operational revenue generated by LCSD this year is $29,743,451. The biggest bulk of that revenue is $15,394,139, coming from state sources, including MAEP. $11.6 million in local revenue is expected, as is $2.6 million in federal sources.

Due to the ongoing construction of a new elementary school and other items coming from the most recent bond issue that was passed, the district’s estimated operational budget is $30,950,490. Nearly 74 percent of those expenditures are coming from teacher salaries and benefits, totaling $22,737,971.

The school district has a little over $53 million in debt services, but received $25 million to go toward paying the debt off when they sold their bonds in April.

“The biggest bulk of (the operational budget) is going to be in the retirement of the debt,” LCSD business manager Mark Brown said. “We’ll be paying off some existing debt that we had and we had some money built up in the debt service account.”

In 2013, the district underwent a bond refinancing and saved around $800,000.

Between the operating budget and estimated revenue, there is a little over $1.2 million difference. The district has been saving money over the years, along with the money from refinancing the bond, in anticipation of having to pay down the debt service that has been accrued. It cannot be used for operational use, which is why the budget is reflected with more money being spent than coming in over the next year.

Following the announcement made by the Mississippi Department of Education last month that it will help cover the money owed to teachers who were not counted in the initial approval of the teacher pay raise, LCSD will receive an additional $489,624 above MAEP to cover the raises through December.

State legislature has assured MDE that they will work on a new appropriations bill to cover the remainder of the current school year and beyond. The next legislative session begins in January.

There is a one-time expenditure included in this year’s budget, which is earmarked for the purchase of chromebook laptops for the high school. The purchase totaled $300,000 and will allow students to have access to laptops while at school. However, students will not be allowed to take them home.