- Associated Press - Wednesday, July 16, 2014

LIBERTY, Miss. (AP) - The Amite County school board will advertise for bids for mineral leases on three tracts of 16th Section land.

So far, the district has signed 18 leases totaling about $6.5 million on 16th Section land.

School district business manager Tommy Felter tells the Enterprise-Journal (https://bit.ly/1meSNDQ ) leases are becoming a familiar and hopeful scene at the school district.

“The more and more leases we see, the more we become cautiously optimistic about the future,” he said. “And they couldn’t come at a better time.”

A formula that calculates district funding based on attendance, not enrollment, has led to cuts of just under $3.5 million since 2008, Superintendent Scotty Whittington said.

In per-pupil funding, Mississippi ranks near the bottom among all states. That average still is expected to go down in 2015. A drop in state revenue collections has led to close to $1 billion in education cuts since 2007.

With oil revenue pouring in, the Amite schools have been fleshing out a capital improvement plan that would allocate more than $1 million in renovation and repair projects at the elementary and high school.

The projects include the renovation of the auditorium, gymnasium and south wing roofs of the high school, an upgrade in the air conditioning system and floor tile work.

The renovations would be the first time in more than 50 years that the school spent significant money on repairs, Whittington said.

The improvement plan is expected to be prepared for the board’s August meeting.

“We are in the process of meeting with vendors, touching base with them. We will then meet with administrators and see what other work needs to be done. We want to include as much as possible. We don’t want to piecemeal these projects,” Felter said.

The board expects to take the leases at its September meeting.

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Information from: Enterprise-Journal, https://www.enterprise-journal.com


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