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Video: School Budget Veto Power Bill Debate

JACKSON, Miss. (WCBI) – Lawmakers are looking into a bill that will give boards of supervisors and city councilmen the power to veto increases made in school district budgets.

A major change could be on the way for school districts across Mississippi. The House and Senate Education committees passed a bill giving budget veto power to city and county leaders. It would give them veto power over budget increases. The bill now moves to the full House and full Senate for a vote.

“I completely agree with it,” says Charles Box, Columbus councilman, Ward 3

Columbus Ward 3 Councilman Charles Box says allowing local leaders to veto increases in a school district’s budget is long overdue.

“Board of supervisors and the city council should have some type of say so in the budget process. We appoint the school board but have absolutely no input into the budget process and that’s a problem. In the education process, they’re more concerned with only what’s best for the children. Totally regardless of what it costs and that really presents a problem. You have to have financial stability and reality in a school too, you can’t just say well we need another five mils this year cause we want to add this program. You have to look at what you can afford,” adds Box.

District 5 Supervisor Leroy Brooks disagrees.

“I don’t want to get into a position where I have to second guess what they need to educate the children of a given community,” said Brooks.

“I’m a strong proponent of education and I would tend to be supportive of a school board of superintendents if they come in with a reasonable budget. Being removed from the day-to-day grind of education the children and understanding the needs of the children,” adds Brooks.

He believes people involved in the day-to-day grind of education should be the ones making budget decisions.

“There are some mechanisms in place now to minimize how much you increase every year, but I don’t think the supervisors want to get into a fight with school boards about how to fund their districts for their educational needs,” states Brooks.

The current law allows local schools districts to increase their budget up to 4% without the approval of supervisors or city councilmen.

One of the biggest supporters of this legislation is the Mississippi Association of Supervisors. They say city and county leaders have a better understanding of local finances so they should make those decisions.

Lawmakers expect to take up the issue within the next seven days.