Poplar Bluff School District is preparing for budget cuts

POPLAR BLUFF, MO (KFVS) - The Poplar Bluff School District is preparing for the worst, but hoping for the best. Superintendent of Business Rod Priest says districts throughout the state will get hit with budget cuts, and so the Poplar Bluff district just wants to be ready.

"You're planning to fail if you're failing to plan," said Priest.

Priest says failing is exactly what they are trying to avoid.

"With state funding, it's a statewide issue, its not just a Poplar Bluff issue, it's something that's all school districts in the state of Missouri are getting ready to face," said Priest.

Priest says the district will be hit from two sides. One, a shrinking state budget, and two, a dried up federal stimulus fund.

"For the past two years the federal government has supplied money to school districts in Missouri," said Priest. "We're going to have to make some changes because the economy hasn't picked up to the level that the stimulus money was filling the gap on."

Changes are what the district is looking at now.

"Look at the ones we absolutely have to have and make sure we are keeping those things," said 5th and 6th Grade Center Principal Mike Owen.

According to Priest, there's talk of cutting employee health benefits, certain programs, or not replacing retiring teachers...but right now it's just talk.

"We're nowhere near we say this certain position or certain person," said Owen.

"We don't want to have to scramble to decide what were going to do within a few weeks time," said Priest.

But once the state releases it's budget, the district may only have a few weeks to make the cuts.

"If the current level of state funding goes down, that number gets bigger," said Priest.

A bigger deficit, that Priest says means more cuts. But he also says they will keep what goes on outside of the classroom from affecting what goes on inside the classroom.

"We're going to cut costs, but we're going to make sure were not cutting education," said Owen.

Now, school leaders are evaluating their programs and individual schools. They will then meet with district officials to talk about what they would cut if necessary.

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