CL – School districts could run out of money

A recent state survey indicates trouble for a number of school districts as tax collections and state aid shrink.

“You will see some school districts literally run out of money,” House Education Committee Chairman Cecil Brown said Monday.

Brown, D-Jackson, suggested that as many as 10 districts could fall into the red in the coming months without the state’s help.

The fund balances for the state’s school districts combined have shrunk roughly in half since June 30, according state Department of Education figures recently provided to lawmakers.

Gov. Haley Barbour suggested that school districts dip into reserves to make it through tough times, but superintendents say those accounts do not reflect true “rainy day” funds as Barbour suggests.

“We keep a certain percentage back like we should, but there’s no way that our fund balance could carry us through the next few years if we wanted to use it that way,” said Bay St. Louis-Waveland Superintendent Becky Ladner. “We have more debt coming due than what we have in the fund balance. Most districts are probably like us.”

Clarion-Ledger
3/16/10