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Schools want tax money; district in near $1M hole

NATCHEZ — The Natchez-Adams School District may ask taxpayers for more money next year.

“The question now is how much and not if,” school board President Wayne Barnett said. “When (Superintendent Frederick) Hill looks at you and says, ‘I’ve cut all I can cut without affecting the quality of education,’ you have to listen to him.”

The Natchez Democrat reports Hill presented the school board a revised budget proposal this week that included $550,468 in cuts. The district is running a deficit of $911,906.

Hill proposes eliminating several coaching vacancies and cutting travel and administrative salaries by 10 percent.

Hill said he could save another $300,763 by requiring all district employees to take a three-day unpaid leave. Those three days would be professional development days on the school district’s calendar and would not be days in which students would be at school, Hill said.

“We’re still looking at an overage of $60,000,” Hill said. “In order for us to make this work, we can ask for the same amount of money and cut $60,000 or ask for more.”

Hill said the only option for more cuts would be to add more furlough days for district employees.

“I don’t think any of us are wanting to ask for an increase in taxes, but we have got to have school, and we’ve got to have teachers to teach children,” said board member Thelma Newsome. “I personally don’t think we need to cut any more days for teachers.

“If that means asking for $60,000 . I don’t think $60,000 is a lot to ask for, and it’s a lot better than $900,000.”

Hill was asked to make two more budget proposals — one that includes an additional $60,000 in revenue from a tax increase and the savings if three days were cut from teacher salaries and another proposal that includes an even higher tax increase and fewer cuts to teacher salaries.

The proposals will be presented to the board when it meets June 13.

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