by Sara Putnam, Contributing Writer

PASS CHRISTIAN (GG) — On Tuesday June 11, 2024, the Pass Christian School District’s board along with Chief Financial Officer Dennis Cochran, met at the Central Services Building in DeLisle, Mississippi to discuss a new FY ‘25 budget.

MAEP (MS Adequate Education Program) no longer exists after the state legislature’s proposal MSFF (MS Student Funding Formula) passed in this legislative session from both chambers and was signed by Mississippi Governor Tate Reeves May 8, 2024.

As stated in House Bill 4130, it will not be effective until July 1, 2024.  With the new funding formula, there still remains a 27% local contribution requirement which in turn means there will be another reduction of $722,000 from the local taxpayers.

Additionally, this new funding formula is set to provide the Mississippi school districts with per student funding based on enrollment as well as a BSA (Base Student Amount) increased by weights to additional funding for Low-Income students and English-language learners.

Cochran presented the enrollment statistics to the board and emphasized the drop in the percentage of enrolled students within the Pass Christian School District.

What they are looking to do in terms of this new budget is reduce the number of mils that they are requesting for debt services and shift them into the general operation so that when FY ‘28 comes they will have the money in the general operation’s budget to fund the district’s budget.

Upon approval of lower mils by Harrison County as well as the city of Pass Christian, this would also contribute to lower property taxes.

Before the closing of the public hearing, Pass Christian School Superintendent Dr. Carla Evers commented on the reduction in class sizes as a result of numerous events. She specifically pointed out the Pass Estates incident that is driving families with the Pass Christian School District (PCSD) students out of the community.

Camille Village, another community with PCSD students is increasing the cost of rent which in turn, is also driving out lower income families, causing a drop in enrollment numbers.  Another big cause for reduced enrollment, she pointed out, was kids leaving to homeschool, moving out of state, or transferring schools from the district.

Finally, attorney fees were also accounted for in the budget as a result of a previous lawsuit. In August, Cochran will present the final budget as the state law requires they publish a court ad two weeks prior to the final adoption.