Desoto County News

School board approves budget 

June 24- The DeSoto County School District Board of Education on Monday, as expected, approved its budget for the fiscal year that begins on July 1.  The unanimous vote approved the budget that was presented during a hearing on June 3 by retiring Chief Financial Officer Stacey Graves.  

Read more: School District budget presented for Fiscal Year 24-25

Under the budget approved by board members, the district will not ask for a millage increase but will stay at 52.85 mills for the new fiscal year.  Of that amount, three mills are for a three mill note and that remains the same as the current budget. That will generate $113.8 million for operations and the three mill note will generate about $6.9 million.  

The local part of a teacher’s salary is increasing by an additional $1,100 annually, which Supt. Cory Uselton said is the largest raise in the history of the district.  Teachers will now receive at least $6,700 per year from our school district’s teaching supplement.

“We are now allocating over $20 million per year to go toward the local teaching supplement,” Uselton said. “Over the last six years, we have been able to increase that allocation by approximately $11 million.  This is strictly from the local level,” he added. 

PERS is increasing by 0.5 percent, and athletic/student activity supplement increases are also part of the budget. 

The school district is adding seven additional school resource officers (SROs) for a total of 58 deputies and police officers in DCS schools. A total of $4.23 million is being budgeted for SROs. 

“We will continue to allocate funding toward school resource officers,” said Uselton. “In 2018, we started budgeting money to give to our municipalities and county government to assist with school resource officers.  We are budgeting over $4 million to go to the Sheriff’s Department, the City of Hernando, and the City of Olive Branch to assist with School Resource Officer coverage.  We will have a School Resource Officer at every elementary school, middle school, and high school.”

Schools are also benefiting from a new formula for determining the state’s contribution to public schools. Gone is the Mississippi Adequate Education Program, or MAEP. Instead, state funding will be figured with the Mississippi Student Funding Formula, or MSFF. With that formula, $219.6 million will be sent to the district, amounting to 94 percent of state revenues heading to DCS. 

“The school board members and I are committed to the task of allocating taxpayer dollars wisely, and I am excited that we have been able to continuously shift more money toward the schools,” said Uselton about the new budget.  

Uselton said school nurses will also remain at all elementary, middle and high schools during the new year. 

KEY EMPLOYEES RETIRING: Four Central Services office employees were recognized with plaques and thanks during Monday’s board meeting, their last board meeting before they leave at the end of the month. 

The four are: Thomas Spencer, Assistant Superintendent for Academic Services; Florence Hill, Director of Title 1 and Assistant Director of Federal Programs; Stacey Graves, Chief Financial Officer; and Beth Cross, Executive Assistant.  

“All four of them have been vital parts of our board meetings and in district operations,” Uselton said. “We’re very excited for them as far as their upcoming retirement. They’ve all done such an outstanding job for the district and we wish them all the best.”

ATHLETIC TURF COMING TO CENTER HILL, LAKE CORMORANT: Board members approved moves to advertise for bids for artificial turf field surfaces at Center Hill and Lake Cormorant high schools. When completed in time for the 2025 fall seasons, along with the turf field as part of the new Hernando High School campus project, all high school fields will have artificial surfaces. 

It’s been part of a three-year project to move from natural grass to turf for the eight high schools in DeSoto County, with the other seven joining Olive Branch’s Pool Field with the artificial surfaces. Uselton said that will help in more than just football for the schools.  

“It’s also for soccer and for band, even baseball and softball go can go out, so it helps them to not miss out on valuable practice time,” he explained. “At the same time it allows our coaches to focus more on the students and not so much on having to take care of the grounds maintenance.”

The complete agenda of Monday’s school board meeting is found here: DeSoto County School District Board Agenda