Low Enrollment Causes Budget Cuts for Ozark Schools

By: Vanessa Araiza Email
By: Vanessa Araiza Email

Things at D.A. Middle School are running as usual. One thing that has changed is the amount of students, staff, and funding that the school has lost this past year.

Michael Lenhart, the Ozark City Schools Superintendent, says, “They funded us based on the number of students we had last year and that turned out to be about 10 teachers less than we had the previous year so we did have to reduce our staffing."

Lenhart says that due to the lack of funding, approximately $1.1 million that would have gone towards teachers, was not available for this years budget.

While it may sound negative, it's not deterring school officials from looking to the positive.

Sylvia Malone, the Principal of D.A. Middle School, says, “I know how things look on paper, and yes we have had some cutbacks. We did lose several teachers, but schools have always had to do a lot with a little."

Michael Hatcher, a teacher at D.A. Middle School, says, “I haven't noticed much of a problem as far as the budget goes. We do a lot, and I think it's going to bear fruit in the end."

And even though funding for teachers is not currently available, that's not going to put a halt in the production of the new high school that is hoped to come in within the next few years.

Lenhart says, "The money that the state sends to us for teachers can only be spent to pay teachers, we can't use any of that money to do renovations or build new buildings."

Lenhart adds, "We were cut teachers, but that money that we get to build and renovate actually increased about $750,000 per year, thanks to the half-cent sales tax that the city council gave us last year."

Lenhart says while it may seem a bit difficult right now, you never know what's going to happen right around the corner, and he will continue to hope for the best.

School officials say funding is based on the previous years numbers.
Those figures come out 40 school days after Labor Day, so officials should soon be seeing how much they have to work with this year.

While the past school year showed low enrollment rates, Superintendent Lenhart says since then the enrollment has actually gone up, predominantly in the elementary schools.

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