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Meridian schools propose net millage decrease, more teachers for K-3

By By Steve Gillespie / staff writer
June 7, 2002
Meridian Public School District officials plan to reduce classroom student-teacher ratios, and taxes, for the 2002-2003 school year.
An advertisement appearing in The Meridian Star today states that the school district is proposing an increase in its operational millage rate of 1.67 mills.
That number is only part of the picture.
While the district wants more money to operate, its accumulated debt will be lower but the district does not publish proposed increases or decreases in its debt service millage rate.
The school district plans a decrease in debt service of 2 mills for an overall decrease of approximately .33 mills.
How the operating
money will be used
Dr. Janet McLin, Meridian schools superintendent, said Thursday the tax increase for the school's operations will mostly go toward hiring new teachers for kindergarten through third grade.
In the 2001-2002 school year, federal money helped fund the salaries of 12 teachers hired to reduce student-teacher ratios.
For the 2002-2003 school year, the district will have five more federally funded elementary teachers and seven additional teachers whose salaries will be paid with local money generated by the proposed millage increase in the operational budget.
The Mississippi State Department of Education allows a maximum student teacher ratio of 27-1 in grades K-3. With the 12 additional teachers, McLin said the ratio in some classes will drop to as low as 20 students per teacher. She said all of the elementary schools will have as many, if not more, teachers in grades K-3 as they had this past school year.
The impact of lower
student-teacher ratios
The district's goal is to achieve a student-teacher ratio of 18-1 for kindergarten through third grade.
Ann Stewart, long-time member and secretary of the Meridian School Board, said she is excited about the additional K-3 teachers.
McLin said research shows that smaller class size in grades K-3 makes a positive difference in children's academic achievement throughout their public school years.
The Meridian Public School District will hold a public hearing on its budget June 17, at 6:30 p.m., in the district's central office at 1019 25th Avenue.
A millage rate is the amount of tax paid per dollar on the assessed value of property. One mill is one-tenth of 1 cent. If the current millage rate for city residents remains the same, and the school district's overall .33 mill decrease is factored in, homeowners would be affected as follows. The assessed values in these examples are based on Class I single-family dwellings, with homestead exemption included.
Value of home Tax this year Tax next year Decrease