The Union County School District’s budget for the 2020-2021 school year was recently approved and will not require a tax increase.

The total revenue in the budget is about $26.8 million. Sixty percent of the revenue comes from the state, which provides about $16.3 million. Local revenue sources, including property taxes, provide 27 percent, or $7.2 million; and federal, $3.3 million.

The budget has $26.1 million in expenditures, and they are broken down as follows: Instruction, $16.7 million; support services, $7.6 million; noninstructional services, $1.7 million; and debt service, $153,607.

Over the last five years, the district has had more money go to instruction and less for noninstructional services, said Superintendent Russell Taylor.

“That’s one of the things that we’re proud of,” Taylor said. “More of our money has gone directly on instruction.”

There are no large capital projects in this year’s budget, said Taylor, adding that the district is trying to be “very conservative.”

The district is spending a lot of money on cleaning with the ongoing coronavirus, he said. Technology for distance learning has also been a focus area. Wi-Fi hotspots have been placed around the county to provide students with Internet connectivity.

The Union County School District’s enrollment has increased by 96 students over the last five years.

Myrtle Attendance Center has seen the largest growth over five years with an additional 46 students. East Union has seen 18 additional students; Ingomar, 13; and West Union, 19.

The district’s graduation rate is nearly 90 percent compared to the statewide average of 85 percent. The dropout rate in the district was 8.6 percent compared to almost 10 percent statewide.

The district employs about 378 people, which includes 205 teachers, and has about 2,902 students enrolled.

The average per pupil expenditure in the district is $9,316 compared to the state average of $10,421.

The Union County School District is rated an A District by the Mississippi Department of Education. The fact that the school district is able to spend less per pupil than the state average and still be an A district shows the district is effective with the money it spends, said Taylor.

In the prior school year, students in grades 9-12 were issued a Google Chromebook to take home with them. In this school year, students in grades 7-8 will also be issued a Chromebook to take home.

Taylor noted that the school board has been great in terms of providing technology for the students. Now every kindergarten through 12th grade student in the district has a computer device, he said.

From year to year the district has to look at keeping newer computers in stock for the students so the technology does not become out of date, he said.

The district has received funding through the federal CARES Act and is using the money to pay for technology, cleaning supplies and additional cleaning staff. More interventionists to help with student growth will also be paid for with the funds.

Dual enrollment participation from juniors and seniors through Northeast Mississippi Community College is at an all-time high.

About 38.5 percent of the students at the New Albany/Union County Career and Technical Center were Union County students. The technical center offers students a look at different career paths as they get older, Taylor noted.

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