The Greenwood Leflore Consolidated School Board is beginning efforts to draft the merged district’s first budget.

During a special called meeting Monday, the school board approved the district’s 2019-2020 budget preparation calendar.

In attendance was Mike Kent of the Mississippi Department of Education, who provides guidance to school districts that are consolidating. The Green-wood and Leflore County districts are merging July 1.

Kent said that at the school board’s June 4 meeting, members will “discuss the final operational budget number that we think we need to operate” for the upcoming school year.

He said a financial adviser from MDE will be on hand to provide information, including what the impact on local property taxes might be.

Because there’s a chance that the budget could require a tax increase, Kent told board members to be prepared for a showing when they hold a public hearing later in June on the proposed budget.

“When we mention the word ‘tax increase,’ it creates ripples,” he said. “You have people that show up. You want to be armed to deal with that.”

The budget must be approved before the school districts consolidate.

Kent also brought up the issue of the school district’s pending responsibility at the Leflore County Juvenile Detention Center.

When the state took over the Leflore County School District in 2013, it also assumed the responsibility for providing educational services to the offenders held there.

In 2016, the U.S. Department of Justice found that Mississippi Department of Education was not providing the required special education services at the detention center. Corrective steps have since been taken, according to Kent.

On Tuesday and Wednesday, Kent said, representatives from the Justice Department will be in Greenwood to discuss with state and local school officials, including Superintendent Mary Brown, how the consolidated district plans to provide the legally mandated services.

“I’m confident that Dr. Brown has a plan moving forward,” Kent said.

Contact Gerard Edic at 581-7239 or gedic@gwcommonwealth.com.

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