With student enrollment on the decline within the Yazoo City schools, fewer students equals less funding. And that is an issue that school leaders are considering as they continue their preparations for the district’s upcoming budget.
Dr. Frederick Hill, chief administrative officer with the Mississippi Achievement School District, provided a report to the Board of Mayor and Aldermen that outlined the district’s financial and enrollment status.
The total enrollment within Yazoo City schools is 2,255 students. District leaders were projecting for about 2,309 students in enrollment. Hill attributes the decline of students at Yazoo City High School to a high graduation rate from last year and a “declining population” within the community, which drew concerning looks from some city leaders.
Last school year, the state allowed high school students to earn graduation credits for incomplete courses, and seniors were allowed to graduate as long as they meet other district and state requirements.
Of the four schools within the local school district, two schools were below what leaders projected in enrollment while the other two schools saw a slight spike than what was predicted. Webster Elementary School has 348 students; McCoy Elementary with 715; Woolfolk Middle with 598; and Yazoo City High School with 594.
In planning for the next fiscal year budget, there are some past commitments that Hill said the district will continue.
“With the exception of student workers and substitute cafeteria workers, no employee in the (district) is paid at the minimum wage per hour,” Hill said.
Based on Superintendent Dr. Jermall Wright’s staffing formula, a teacher within the city school district with experience and a bachelor’s level certification will make a salary of $36,890. However, he said the actual cost to the district for that salary is $51,199, which is the total salary with benefits and health and life insurance.
Some priorities for the district’s budgetary preparations include restoration and continuation of music and arts in secondary schools, additional dual enrollment options, a distance learning teacher pilot program, student advocacy and leadership development and foreign language teachers.
Considering the district’s budget preparation, this could mean that some individuals currently employed will not have a position with the district in the 2022 school year. Wright’s report said teacher assistants will be impacted the most, with very little impact on elementary, secondary core content and special education teachers. He added that the same process at the school level will also take place within the central district office level.
“I honestly don’t believe our instructional vision and district mission will be compromised in any way with a leaner staff organization,” Wright said. “In fact, I believe the end result from this process will make us healthier, stronger, and will help shift the overall culture of employees in the district, which will increase productivity. The school district does not exist just to employ and provide paychecks to individuals. The school district exists to provide a service to students, families and the community and should include the most essential roles with individuals who are best suited and motivated to produce and provide services.”
The district’s budget for the next fiscal year will be available to the public in April, allowing feedback for ten days. A public budget hearing is scheduled for June.