For the past four years, the Haynesville Shale has meant prosperity for many residents of Desoto Parish. But a recent decline in drilling activity may mean a significant decrease in revenue.
"The Haynesville Shale has been very good to Desoto Parish in every way," says Walter Lee, Desoto Parish Schools Superintendent.
Lee says the discovery of the Haynesville Shale has benefited the Desoto Parish school system tremendously.
"It's the sales tax because of drilling activity that has really helped the school system."
Helped it so much that Mansfield was able to build a new high school two years ago, as well as improve all other existing educational facilities in the parish.
But falling natural gas prices have caused energy companies to decrease drilling, meaning a drastic slump in revenue for the area.
"Less drilling, less pipelines, less processing plants," says Lee.
And less money coming in for everyone. But Lee says the key to surviving the slump has been proper planning and ensuring money was used carefully.
"We knew that there would a be a downturn at some point. We still don't know how far it's going to go down and when it's going to level off," says Lee.
Leveling off may mean no more bonuses for the school system's 750 employees but, at this point, Lee says they'll just have to wait and see.
Lee says the school system may be forced to stop paying into a retiree health care fund, which is now at $44 million dollars, but he says regular teacher salaries and the teacher advancement program (TAP) will be protected.