When the DeSoto County School District (DCS) Board of Education gathers on Tuesday, June 12 at 3 p.m. for its annual budget hearing, board members expect to not be seeing one item on the district's proposal: a millage increase.
"We did not have any plans on asking for any type of millage increase," said DCS Supt. Cory Uselton in previewing the budget hearing after Thursday's board meeting in Hernando.
What the budget proposal will have is the inclusion of plans to raise salaries for teachers and staff at the school level, as Uselton recently announced would take place.
One component expected to be included in the budget proposal, however, is a provision for added school resource officers, or SROs, in district schools.
Uselton's idea would still need approval from local governments, such as cities and DeSoto County, that provide members of their law enforcement departments to be in the buildings on a daily basis during the school year.
The governments control the number of officers in a school and the school district does not assign them, said Uselton.
Although there has not been funding from the state Legislature to finance the move toward more SROs, Uselton proposes that DCS allocate the money, in case cities and the county government agree to make it happen.
The leader of the state's largest school district said recent events involving school shootings across the country have made it important for him to beef up security on DCS campuses.
"We want to be able to put in as many school resource officers in our schools as we can," Uselton said. "I feel that the safety of our students is our number one priority and we want to make sure that we are doing all that we can and to be proactive in security measures."
Uselton credited district efforts to eliminate wasteful spending where possible for the ability to raise salaries without raising millage rates.
"We've looked over the last two-and-a-half years of making cuts where we can in district level spending, and that was a reason why we were able to give teachers a pay raise, because of cuts we've made," Useton said. "At the same time, we're wanting to save money in other areas and put those towards safety. It all comes down to being efficient with the dollars that we've been given from our taxpayers."
DeSoto County Schools operated this fiscal year with a budget of $310 million.
Bob Bakken is Staff Writer for the DeSoto Times-Tribune.