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School district’s bond payments to increase in ’12-’13

June 20, 2012

By CARL SMITH
sdnnews@bellsouth.net

Starkville School District’s future fiscal budget could include a slight ad valorem millage adjustment to cover increasing bond issue payments, but tax rates for operational costs are not projected to rise just yet.
SSD Comptroller Rob Logan said it is premature to say if the district needs an immediate millage increase because officials will not see ad valorem tax numbers until July 1.

As presented in Logan’s budget report Tuesday, the district required a 62.24 mill ad valorem tax rate in 2012. The same report forecasts a .72-mill increase to 62.96 mills in 2013. When the total is broken down, 50.94 mills are reserved for operational costs, while .12 and 11.9 mills are used for limited tax notes and bond indebtedness, respectively.
Despite the figures in Tuesday’s report, an SSD release issued following the meeting stated the district “does not predict a millage increase if ad valorem tax collections remain at current levels.”

The forecasted 62.96 figure ranks below the median of past SSD millage rates since 2001. Logan’s report states 67.66 mills were levied in 2002, while the district only needed 58.86 mills from 2003 to 2008, with exception to 2005.

Logan said the district expects to receive $16.77 million from Mississippi Adequate Education Program funding, an increase of $403,027 from last year. In comparison, the district received a similar amount for the 2010-2011 fiscal year: $16.69 million. Total projected revenues for the upcoming school year — a figure which includes local, intermediate, state, federal, 16th section and other financing sources — totals $43.75 million, while the district expects to spend $42.42 million.

With the upcoming budget, district officials aim to add three teaching positions, new learning systems for younger students and 20 SmartBoards (Sudduth Elementary), while funding Measures of Academic Progress (MAP) assessments for kindergarten to third grade and bus and computer purchases.

As for the list of districtwide maintenance issues compiled by former Assistant Superintendent Walter Gonsoulin, incoming Superintendent Lewis Holloway said he will make assessments of individual needs and the district will approach them as it can.

Only one person out of the 12-member audience spoke during the allotted public commentary portion of Tuesday’s meeting.

Theatre teacher Paula Mabry asked the school board to consider funding maintenance projects and future needs for the program. The board took her request under advisement. The school board will meet again 6 p.m. Tuesday and is expected to set the incoming year’s budget.

In other action, district officials announced Harrison Central High School Principal Toriano Holloway will assume Gonsoulin’s role as assistant superintendent for federal programs and operations.

Toriano Holloway, a graduate of Mississippi University for Women and Southern Miss, began his teaching career in 1998 at Gulfport High School. From there, he served the school as an assistant principal, took a similar role at St. Martin High School and became its principal.
St. Martin was named one of America’s best high schools by U.S. News & World Report during his tenure. The incoming assistant superintendent guided Harrison Central to a 30-point increase in its quality distribution index.

“I’ve always known Starkville has a good school district and I’m extremely excited about the opportunity to positively impact student achievement,” Toriano Holloway said following Tuesday’s meeting. “Harrison Central is one of the largest schools in the state. My previous experiences have thoroughly prepared me for this job. I’m ready to make an impact.”

In April, Gonsoulin accepted the Fairfield, Ala. City Schools superintendent role and left SSD this month. Toriano Holloway was picked out of 15 applicants and five finalists by a four-person selection committee led by Lewis Holloway. The two Holloways are not related.
“(Toriano) Holloway is a proven leader focused on optimizing learning and increasing academic achievement,” Lewis Holloway said in a release issued after Tuesday’s meeting. “An administrator for 10 years, he’s also experienced in staff development, community engagement and effective communication.”

The new administrator said he would be in Starkville Monday morning, but the release issued by SSD stated he will officially assume the position July 1.

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