HPSD finishes school year with money in general fund

HATTIESBURG, Miss. - The Hattiesburg Public School District (HPSD) projected to finish the school year with money in its general fund. Officials said with money in the fund will avoid both a deficit and takeover by the Mississippi Department of Education.

It's been a rough year for the school district, laying off workers, cutting positions, programs, and pay, but the district needed to budget correctly.

The layoffs and pay cuts are a product of the financial fiscal situation at HPSD, which was revealed by former Superintendent James Bacchus who resigned last December.

HPSD had a larger deficit than expected at the end of last year, which was recently revealed in this year's audit report.

HPSD Director of Communications, Jas N Smith said, "The district will end its 2015-2016 year with about $450,000 in the fund balance."

District officials are glad they are still in charge of the fund and not the state. "If we end the year in a negative in the district's fund, then the state would come in and take over" said Smith.

Smith added, "It would involve a lot of very difficult arduous process, and it would be a long term thing that the district would have to deal with for years to come."

Smith said $450,000 is a positive sign, but still a long way to go, "It's not ideal, it still is a low number, but it is better than a negative number."

He said in past years the district ended the school year in at least the millions.

"This is a significant reduction in our fund from the last probably 4 to 5 years, we previously had a fund balance that was in the millions, but over the last year we have seen it steadily decline" said Smith.

The district said it will be awhile before positions and programs reopen.

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