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JPS has underfunded maintenance for last decade compared to other districts

DECLINE: JPS enrollment has declined steeply since 2005. Graph by Steve Wilson

According to records obtained by Mississippi Matters, the Jackson Public School District funded building improvements, maintenance and operations (utility bills and other non-maintenance costs) at a rate of slightly more than three percent annually over the last decade.

A $65 million bond issue that would fix the infrastructure issues spotlighted by a Mississippi Department of Education audit report released in August 2017 and fund other unspecified projects is up for a vote Tuesday.

In the JPS budgets, there are several accounts that include the district's buildings. They include:

  • Building improvement

  • Care and upkeep of ground services

  • Fixed assets

  • Care and upkeep of equipment services

  • Care and upkeep/building services - operations

Salaries of JPS employees engaged in each are included in the totals. What isn't included in the totals include vehicle operations and maintenance, costs for the facilities management directors and supervisors, technical services and operations, security, procurement and warehouse costs.

JPS officials have spent slightly more than 3 percent annually on building-related costs since 2008, with a high of 3.57 percent in 2014 and two lows of 3.05 percent in 2008 and in 2016. That adds up to an average of $9,716,933 annually from an annual budget that averages $207,570,961.

In comparison, Rankin County spent 16.7 percent of its $257,789,671 budget on maintenance for its more than $131 million in buildings and facilities.

DeSoto County spent 10.6 percent of its $300,131,031 budget in 2016 on maintenance on its more than $369 million worth of buildings and other facilities.

The district's annual budget — which is primarily funded by state funding and local property taxes — has decreased from $218,904,078 in 2008 to $197,716,558 in 2018, a 9.67 percent decrease. As for the district's enrollment, it has shrunk from 30,500 students to 25,595 in 2017, the last time data was available. That's a decrease of 16 percent.

If approved, the bond issue will add up to a five mill tax increase ($5 per $1,000 in taxable property value) since the 5 mills were supposed to expire this year.

Taxpayers living in the Jackson city limits are already paying 84.01 mills to support the JPS, the most in the metro area. Hinds County schools (67.05 mills), Clinton schools (67.94 mills), Rankin County schools (56.55 mills), Pearl schools (60.40 mills), Madison County schools (54.55 mills) and Canton schools (58.25 mills).

The JPS was third from the bottom of the state's 147 school districts with half of its schools listed as failing by the MDE in the last accountability grades. JPS has earned a failing grade in the last two evaluations and a D in the two before that..

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