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Leading Lawmakers Question Mississippi’s Public School Funding Formula

By Jeffrey Hess | Published 19 Sep 2012 05:22pm | comments
Lynn House at JLBC hearing (center)

Members of the Mississippi Joint Legislative Budget Committee are calling into question the formula that determines what is adequate funding of the state's public education system. MPB's Jeffrey Hess reports it would take a 300-million dollar increase in spending to fully fund the formula next year.

The Mississippi Adequate Education Program is the formula that determines how much the state should spend on its public education system.

This year, the formula dictates a 300-million dollar increase over the current fiscal year in order to be fully funded.

During Hearings yesterday, State Interim Superintendent Lynn House told the Joint Legislative Budget Committee that the Department of Education is required by law to request full funding even if it is unlikely to get that amount.

"We know you have to decide what you have to decide based on the revenue. To say that we absolutely believe that you can fully fund given unknown financial straits, I don't think we can say that," House said.

"Look at it. They come in apologize for it. They apologize, 'by law we have to ask for full funding of MAEP'. Just bring us a realistic budget,"

That's Senator Terry Brown of Columbus who is a member of the Committee and one of a number of law makers who has grown frustrated with the funding formula since it has only been fully funded twice since its creation in the late 90's.

"Bring us in a realistic budget. Do away with MAEP. So you don't have to come in here and ask for something you know you are not going to get. That what they said, 'we know we can't do this'. Just bring us in a realistic budget. That is all I want," Brown said.

There is little expectation among the law makers that they will pour an additional 300-million dollars into education during the next session.

Superintendent House says it might be time to consider changes to the formula.

"What is adequate funding for our schools to operate? And maybe we do need to look at the factors that are utilized in determining that number. But every year it is a challenge, I think, to deal with where the legislature will land," House said.

The total education budget request is 2.4 billion dollars which is a 14-percent increase over the current budget.

The final spending numbers will be approved when the legislature convenes next year.

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Lynn House at JLBC hearing (center)


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