WINONA -- Dr. Teresa Jackson, newly-appointed superintendent of education for the Winona Montgomery Consolidated School District, presented projected property tax numbers to fund next year’s consolidated school district to the Montgomery County Board of Supervisors.
Winona Separate School District Business Manager Amanda Gray was also present to answer questions from the board. Gray had worked with Montgomery County Tax Assessor/Collector Velma Young, Mississippi Department of Education’s financial consultant to Montgomery County Debbie Jones, and Montgomery County Business Manager Lynea Watson in creating the projections, which are based on current revenue and expenses of Winona and Montgomery County school districts.
Currently, the Montgomery County School District has an assessed value of $31,508,000, and 39.5 tax mills have been assessed to the taxpayers within the school district lines.
The Winona Separate School District has an assessed value of $27,583,992, with 50.6 tax mills assessed to the taxpayers within the district’s lines. Winona taxpayers also pay 2.75 mills of debt service that will continue being assessed to those inside Winona’s district only.
After combining the figures for both districts, the assessed value is $59,751,088, after subtracting the homestead value. If the ad valorem tax was the same as it was in 2017-2018 for both districts, $2,640,314, the estimated millage rate for the Winona Montgomery Consolidated School District would be 44.0 mills.
This would be a decrease of 6.6 mills for property owners inside the Winona Separate School District, or $66 per year on a $100,000 house, and a 4.5 mill increase for property owners inside the Montgomery County School District, or $45 per year on a $100,000 house.
Jackson told supervisors that these numbers do not include any federal funding because “there is no way to consider the gains and losses in the federal program,” Jackson said.
Jackson said the projected figures are also based on last year’s funding from the state, which has been cut annually for the last several years.
“These figures are the worst-case scenario,” Jackson said. “The numbers are based on exactly what each district received this year.”
In fielding questions from the board, Jackson said Montgomery County High School’s high cost per student -- $14,270 per student and the highest cost per pupil in the state -- Jackson explained regardless if a school has 500 students of 100 students, the cost to operate a high school – with a counselor, librarian, food services, transportation, extracurricular programs, and teachers needed for the mandatory classes – is highly involved.
Jackson explained three options the Winona Montgomery Consolidated School Board is weighing as they create the new school district and to meet the many needs of the children. To keep all four schools in Montgomery County open, the district will see an annual savings of $1,509,550, mainly from the consolidation of the central office and other duplicate expenses.
To close Montgomery County High School and send all students to Winona High School, the district will see a savings of $2,755,367 a school year.
To close both Montgomery County High School and Montgomery County Elementary School, sending all county students to Winona, the district will see a savings of $3,853,078 a school year.
Jackson said whatever the board decides, the savings will need to go to meet the various needs of the school district – physical plant improvements, technology upgrades, new textbooks, new buses, and so on. Jackson said the board will not decide until she has finished collecting all the information they need as they weigh the various options.
“The board has not made decision on school closings,” Jackson said. “There are some tough decisions to be made, and I’m willing to make those decisions. I’m going to do what is best for the kids.”
Montgomery County Circuit Clerk Lanelle Martin said the consolidated school district’s re-districting has been completed and new voter registration cards will be mailed next week.
In other county news:
• The board approved hiring Bailey Lott at the Montgomery County Sheriff’s Department and bringing Shawn Ware on part-time to assist with county inmates.
• The board voted to purchase a new front loader from Stribbing Equipment for $173,384.86.
• The board voted to send Montgomery County Coroner Allan Pratt to a forensic identification conference.
• The board approved the $100 purchase of an additional Jaws-Of-Life apparatus to be housed at the Duck Hill Fire Department.
• The board of supervisors recessed until March 30 at 8 a.m. at the Montgomery County Courthouse.