MSMS’ Reserve Fund Running on Fumes, Thanks to State Budget Cuts
Courtesy of the Dispatch –
Even as people recognize MSMS for its contributions to society and the excellence of its students, the state Legislature slashes its funding to dangerous levels.
Mississippi School for Mathematics and Science executive director Germain McConnell recently spoke to the Columbus Rotarians about the future of the school that has done so much for our community and our state. MSMS, which is located on the Mississippi University for Women campus, is a residential, state-funded school that aims to educate gifted 11th- and 12th-grade students from across Mississippi with emphasis in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) studies. The school is tuition-free, aside from a $500 per semester charge for room and board that only applies to students who don’t qualify for a free or reduced-price lunch program.
McConnell stated that the school which normally operates at a loss of $100~150 thousand per year, was approved by the state legislature for a budget that was cut by $168,400 less to MSMS for 2017-18 than it did for the previous year. The school will need to make up for the difference from its reserve fund, which is intended for facility upgrades and emergency funding; the account is down to about $1.2 million as it stands: “If something catastrophic happens to our facilities, that (reserve) money is all we have to deal with that,” he said.
If the balance drops below $1 million, McConnel went on to say, the result could be cuts in faculty funding, which would mean a “drastic” reduction in the already limited number of students MSMS can admit; they have already had to lower admissions for the upcoming year, allowing for 235 total students out of their potential capacity of 300. The school had to eliminate three non-teaching staff positions to make up for the shortfall caused by the budget cut; he and some others are now redoubling their efforts to get the funding level back up to at least what it was in the 2016-17 level.
“People here (in Columbus) understand the value we add to the community, and we’re hoping they help us get our message to the ears of the people who make the (budget) decisions,” McConnell told The Dispatch after the Rotary meeting. “This school is a beacon of light for the state of Mississippi. We’ve utilized our resources wisely. If we want to continue doing what we do and offering those opportunities to students in the future, the state of Mississippi needs to begin investing in MSMS a lot more.”
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