Natchez-Adams School District loses $612K

Published 11:47 pm Thursday, January 22, 2009

NATCHEZ — Effective immediately the Natchez-Adams School District will lose $612,350 in annual funding.

It was barely one week ago when the Natchez-Adams School District learned their state funding was about to be slashed.

On Wednesday, District Superintendent Anthony Morris and the district’s business manager Margaret Parson went to Jackson to meet with the state superintendent to learn just how deep the cuts would go.

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The district currently runs on a budget of approximately $41 million, but the new cuts won’t go unnoticed, Morris said.

“It’s a big deal,” he said. “It won’t be easy for us to absorb.”

But the Natchez-Adams School District isn’t alone in their plight.

Wednesday’s meeting was attended by superintendents and business managers from every district across the state — their budgets are also being cut.

Parson said it was a somber meeting.

By the end of the year more than 20 districts will be operating in the red.

Luckily the Natchez won’t be one of those districts, Morris said.

But the district will have to keep a tight grip on its cash.

“We plan as close to the penny as we can,” Morris said. “Our budget is always very lean, and a cut in the middle of the budget is hard for us.”

Morris said the district will first try to deal with the cuts by cutting back on the “little things.”

Turning off lights, air conditioning and heat in any rooms that aren’t being used are about to become commonplace.

Any expenses that are not absolutely necessary, like new equipment, to the function of extra curricular activity will be postponed.

And while the district isn’t in a hiring freeze, any positions that become available won’t likely be filled for the foreseeable future, Morris said.

Aside from that the district has to take a wait and see approach, Morris said.

And Morris said the district has lost more than $600,000 in funding that it knows of, but that might not be the end of it.

It’s possible that some “ripple effects” could come from the loss and result in more loss, or all of the losses might not have been immediately realized, Morris said.

And if the district gets more funding cuts, it could have to dip into its savings.

Parson said the district currently has approximately $2.27 million in savings they’re hoping not to have to use.

And it’s the general economic downturn across the state, and nation, that’s to blame for the cuts.

Gov. Haley Barbour recently mandated $200 million is state funding cuts, which included the district’s cuts, to compensate for losses in tax collections.

But until the dust settles, the district can’t stop moving forward, Morris said.

“School officials will do anything they can to protect the academic process,” he said.