Jamie Jacks, Cleveland school board attorney

CLEVELAND – Cleveland School District attorney Jamie Jacks released a statement on Wednesday clarifying the amount of taxes that homeowners would pay when the district exercises its authority to raise taxes for school improvements.

It is estimated that annual individual taxes will not increase more than $11 dollars per $100,000 dollars worth of property, Jacks said in the statement.

“In other words, if you have a one-hundred thousand dollar home, it is estimated you see an $11 annual increase to your taxes,” she said. A May 9 story by Mississippi Today had reported a higher impact on taxpayers.

An attachment Jacks provided Mississippi Today shows that the district was already assessing 1.51 mills under its 3-mill authority. The new levy for improvements approved by the board earlier this month would add between 1.1 mills and 1.3 mills, the document shows.

Jacks added that the district is likely to pay back the money over 12 years, keeping the rate increase close to $11 per $100,000 of assessed value for district taxpayers.

The new property tax increase for the residents of the school district in Bolivar County is expected to raise about $1.8 million, said Jacks. State law allows districts to impose a 3 mill levy for school improvements without voter approval.

However, Jacks noted that if 20 percent of registered voters in the Cleveland School District sign a petition in opposition of the increase, an election will be held.

Sherry Shepard, community member and parent, is making an effort to get a petition filed with 20 percent of the registered voters to force the issue to a vote.

“Even though the District is pursuing a 3 mil note, it can also, at a later date, vote to have a bond election which would raise significantly more funds for either a new building or a major renovation of existing buildings,” said Jacks in the statement.

“The District decided to pursue only the 3 mill note for now to make necessary repairs and improvements to existing buildings.” Jacks’ release provide additional details about the improvements at the new Cleveland Central High School and Cleveland Middle School.

“Some of those improvements include renovating the science lab at the high school, adding a 10 car canopy at the middle school and multiple renovations that are required under the Americans with Disabilities Act. The ADA requires an elevator be placed at the high school so that our students and faculty with disabilities can have greater access to the second floor,” the statement said.

“Additionally, the District is addressing all entrances and exits to its middle and high school to ensure they are ADA compliant and all of our students and faculties can navigate the campuses with ease,” Jacks said.


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Aallyah Wright is a native of Clarksdale, and was a Mississippi Delta reporter covering education and local government. She was also a weekly news co-host on WROX Radio (97.5 FM) and collaborator with StoryWorks/Reveal Labs from the Center for Investigative Reporting. Aallyah has a bachelor’s in journalism with minors in communications and theater from Delta State University. She is a 2018 Educating Children in Mississippi Fellow at the Hechinger Report, and co-founder of the Mississippi Delta Public Newsroom.

One reply on “Cleveland schools clarify tax increase impact”

  1. Sherry Shepard is a money stealing —–. Look what I found on her. Demand Issued Exceeding $100,000 to Former Benoit School District Employees

    June 27, 2008

    JACKSON- Stacey Pickering announced today that four former Benoit School District employees have been demanded to pay $109,681.89 as a result of misuse of grant funds.

    Dr. Suzanne Hawley, former superintendent; Barbara Peeples, former business manager; Ephen Melton, former maintenance manager; and Dr. Sherry Shepard, former assistant superintendent received unapproved and unauthorized salaries through three grants awarded to Benoit School District over three school years, July 2003 through June 2006.

    The funds received by the four individuals exceeded their respective contracts and were paid without the knowledge and approval of the School District and the Mississippi Department of Education.

    “School districts receive considerable federal and state grant money each year to carry out programs and to assist in administrative costs of such programs,” said State Auditor Stacey Pickering. “The job of the Auditor’s Office is vital to ensuring that funds distributed to individual school districts are used properly and fully accounted for. This investigation signifies my commitment to recovering any misused or embezzled funds and returning those to the local school district.”

    Dr. Suzanne Hawley, former school superintendent, received a total of $11,500 in unapproved salary. Barbara Peeples, former business manager, received $11,500 in unapproved salary. Ephen Melton, former maintenance manager, received $23,788.74 in unapproved salary. Dr. Sherry Shepard, former assistant superintendent, received $34,947.12 in unapproved salary. An additional $27,946.03 is included in the demand for interest and investigative expenses.

    Hawley, Peeples, Melton and Shepard have 30 days to remit payment to the State Auditor’s Office for the use and benefit of the Benoit School District in Bolivar County.

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