State education hopes to keep moving forward, even with budget cuts - - Jackson, MS

Jackson 10/14/08

State education hopes to keep moving forward, even with budget cuts

By Jon Kalahar

Lower than expected tax collections and higher fuel costs have caused Governor Haley Barbour to request state agencies and departments trim their budgets for this year and the next.

But the department of education is asking for over $180 million more for their next fiscal year budget.

So could this mean a step backward in the classroom for Mississippi?

The Mississippi Council on Economic Education helped the Lamar County school district become a national model for adding economics to it's classrooms. This luncheon honors students and teachers from across the state for their achievements in economics. Educators hope the state budget crunch won't affect it's success and programs like it.

"We're going to have to do a better job at looking how we can really get lean in schools," said Dr. Hank Bounds, state superintendent.

That means anything from when air conditioners are turned on to changing bus routes to save gas. But one thing that won't change is the state's educational progress.

"We can't afford to lose any ground at all. We've go to continue moving forward and even with a down turn, we're going to have to move with a greater sense of urgency," said Bounds.

House education committee chairman, Cecil Brown agrees cuts are needed. Now he says the state needs to simply hold on.

"If we could just hold our own and keep the momentum going until times got better, I'll be satisfied with that," said Brown.

And for the president of the Mississippi Council on Economic Education, Doctor Pam Smith, she says the state must keep moving forward for the students future.

"These kids desperately need the skills that the teachers know how to teach economics brings them and they need it in order to function in this work place," said Smith.

The Governor says general state collections are down over $23 million in the first three months of this fiscal year.

That could mean $100 million less than they thought the state would collect for this year.

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