Surrell said even with raises to teachers, constructing this year’s budget can still be a difficult one.
“This is the first time in years that the state has issued pay raises for teachers,” Surrell said.
In April, Mississippi Gov. Phil Bryant signed Mississippi House Bill 504 giving teachers $2,500. The new law gives educators a $1,500 raise in 2014-2015 and a $1,000 raise in 2015-2016. The last raise for teachers was in 2007.
“Right now, we’re trying to see how everything works,” Surrell said.
Surrell said he plans to seek additional state dollars and ask for a four percent increase, the maximum increase allowed per year from the county. He said the majority of school district revenue comes from state dollars.
“Both the local and state funds make up of 76 percent of your budget,” Surrell said. “When you lose those dollars, it affects your budget. Since 2008, school districts have received continued cuts in state revenue.”
Of the local funding, Surrell said 91 percent of it is made up of ad valorem money, and Mississippi Adequate Education Program (MAEP) dollars make up 92 percent of the state funds.
On the local level, the school district is allowed to ask for up to a four percent increase in ad valorem taxes, and Surrell said that will be the request.
Surrell said cutting will be necessary, but in this case, cuts have been made across the board.
“As far as staff in Carroll County Schools, staff cuts have been as much as they can be,” Surrell said. “You take Marshall Elementary for example, there is one teacher for every 27 students.”
At the school board’s last meeting in North Carrollton, Surrell told the school’s Board of Trustees that he even looked at the possibility of suspending usage of the board attorney as well as cutting the salaries of the school board members.
Superintendent Billy Joe Ferguson said there has to be money to run the schools in the district.
“We’re cutting where we can, but you take our school buses that average 14 years old, a 20-year-old roof at Marshall Elementary, and 15-year-old air condition units at J.Z. George -- all of this has to be factored in,” Ferguson said.
The money the school district received in 2014 is less than what was received from the state in 2008. Since 2008, the district has been underfunded a total of $2.5 million.