D’Iberville teacher shares fears, frustrations over budget cuts




Denise Fountain said she knew money was tight in the Harrison County School District, but she didn’t realize it was this bad.    

“When Henry Arledge called us in, we were really shocked,” said Fountain. “We did not know it was as severe as it was until he actually came down and said, ‘Look, we’ve got to really tighten our belts, or we’ll have to let people go.'”

Superintendent Arledge told his staff that all 1,800 employees will be affected, if the district is forced to cut 15 percent from its budget next year. He warned of possibly cutting salaries, reducing supplemental pay to teachers and assistant teachers, even eliminating about 20 positions.

“I’m not worried about my future and my job. I’m worried about the children and our future as a whole,” said Fountain. “I worry about my daughter who’s in a public school. I worry about what she’s going to be faced. Where the cuts are going. This year is bad. Next year’s going to be worse.”

Fountain has been a teacher at D’Iberville Elementary School for eight years now. She said cutting salaries and staff would only lead to larger classes. That means the children get short changed because they don’t get the personal attention.

“I hate to see them come out of the elementary school and end up in a prison because the classrooms are overcrowded,” she said. “You don’t have the control. You can’t get them the learning what they need.”

Another concern she raised was campus safety. She wondered what would happen if the district ends up cutting five or six school resource officers.

“When I first started teaching, I was in third grade. I was assaulted seven times within three months,” Fountain said. “There are so many fights that break out, and there are so many teachers who are injured trying to break up fights.”

Fountain wants lawmakers to understand the full impact budget cuts can have on children.

“Definitely stop cutting education. Find other loopholes. Find other places that they can cut.  Every day they met in special session, hello, money out the window,” said Fountain. 

She’s also urging parents to take a stand. 

“I’m getting a paycheck. I’m also a parent. I can gripe all I want to, but until the parents, the people who are really truly being affected, stand up and say something, it’s not going to change. They’re going to continue to cut the budget,” said Fountain.

Fountain brought up other concerns, like losing programs that help students get scholarships. And she said Mississippi will lose the best teachers, if the budget crisis continues.

By Trang Pham-Bui

WLOX- ch 13

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