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School district delays budget approval

Jay Sowers / The Natchez Democrat — Natchez-Adams School District board member David Troutman, left, and board President Wayne Barnett listen as  Tim Blalock addresses the board during a meeting Thursday afternoon. The board will meet again at 11 a.m. today to approve the budget and administrative salary schedules.
Jay Sowers / The Natchez Democrat — Natchez-Adams School District board member David Troutman, left, and board President Wayne Barnett listen as Tim Blalock addresses the board during a meeting Thursday afternoon. The board will meet again at 11 a.m. today to approve the budget and administrative salary schedules.

NATCHEZ — The Natchez-Adams School Board delayed making a decision Thursday on a proposed $39 million budget which would raise county property taxes.

Board members voted unanimously Thursday evening during the district’s regularly monthly meeting to table the budget adoption until 11 a.m. today.

“I think we need a little time to read (the budget),” Board President Wayne Barnett said. “I don’t have a problem with Dr. (Frederick) Hill presenting this budget and us asking questions, but I have a problem with us voting (Thursday).”

Two board members, Benny Wright and Thelma Newsome, arrived late to the meeting.

Once Newsome arrived shortly after the meeting was called, board members voted to table the budget adoption until later in the meeting.

Wright arrived toward the end of the meeting and board members made a motion to table all budget discussions and decisions.

Revisions to the district’s administrative support salaries schedules were also tabled until today’s meeting.

“I’ve been up since 4 a.m. and haven’t had a chance to review the information,” Newsome said.

The proposed budget projects the school district will generate $39.61 million in revenue and spend $39.41 million. The budget leaves the district with a $210,646 surplus.

The budget includes a 1.56-mill increase in ad valorem taxes. The requested increase in ad valorem tax added to the existing millage equals $12 million in revenue for the school district.

The increase in tax revenues is attributed to make up for a $330,057 decrease in state funding, district officials said.

Superintendent Hill will also present the board today with a list of proposed budget cuts that board members also said they wanted a chance to review.

At a June board meeting, Hill presented the board with a list of $617,537.50 in potential cuts that included reducing district travel and not filling current vacant positions, among other things.

Hill said the cuts he will present the board with today vary from those previously presented, but said he wouldn’t disclose details about the cuts until today’s meeting.

In other news from the meeting:

• Hill announced a series of three community meetings the district will host to inform and educate parents regarding common core state standards.

Mississippi adopted the common core state standards, which are a set of nationally adopted standards, in 2010 with the goal of having them fully implemented in kindergarten through 12th grade in English language arts and math by the 2014-2015 school year.

“Educators are having a hard time understanding common core, so we don’t know where our parents stand,” Hill said. “We need to get out to the community and talk about common core and help them make that transition.”

The first community meeting will be at 6 p.m. Tuesday, July 30, at the Natchez Community Center.