Cost per student down in districtBy DR. TERESA JACKSON,
School districts receive funding from state, local, and federal sources. Schools depend on these funds to provide the students of our communities with an education that will allow them to lead productive lives in a competitive world.
Prior to July 1, 2018, there were 2 school districts in the county: Montgomery County School District (MCSD) and Winona Municipal Separate School District (WSD). In 2016, the legislature ordered the consolidation of the two districts. Since consolidating, the new district’s state funding has been cut by $1,163,743. This is in addition to the $1.5 million the consolidated district has been shorted in its 2 years of existence by the legislature’s decision not to fully fund the MS Adequate Education Program (MAEP).
Local funding for school districts comes from taxes levied on residences, business or personal property, and autos. Prior to consolidation, Winona School District (WSD) received local funding from taxpayers residing in the city of Winona and those who resided within the city school district in the county, and Montgomery County School District (MCSD) received local funding from taxpayers residing in the county.
The combined amount requested by the two former school districts was around $2.5 million for each of the fiscal years 2016-2018. In the year prior to consolidation, WSD served 1,078 students with a per student cost of $8,960.73 and earning a B rating in the state’s accountability model. In the same year, MCSD served 242 students with a per student cost of $17,843.99 and earning a D rating in the accountability model. In the last 2 years, the consolidated district has requested $400,000 to make up for the $2,698,535 the district did not receive from the state.
Being good stewards of limited resources, WMCSD worked to find ways to cut expenses. The central office staffing of both districts was combined and reorganized, pay scales were adopted, buildings that were not being fully utilized were closed, bus routes were evaluated for efficiency, and most recently the Board has moved forward with an energy savings project. This project will include changing all lighting to energy efficient LED lights, replacing three sections of the roof at the secondary school, replacing all the windows at Winona Secondary, and replacing some HVAC units.
In its simplest form, if you take the total state and local funding received by the two separate districts and the consolidated district from fiscal year 2016-2020 and divide into $1000s you can see the steady decrease in funding for the education of the county’s students from $10,787.62 to $9,772.23.
Dr. Teresa Jackson is the superintendent of education for the Winona-Montgomery Consolidated School District