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Superintendents Say Lack of Funding Harming Schools

By Paul Boger | Published 10 Jan 2014 08:30am | comments
A number of school superintendents are claiming Mississippi's lack of education funding is having serious ramifications on the local level. MPB's Paul Boger reports those superintendents say their districts are having to do more with less.
A new report released by the Center for Education Innovation says because the legislature isn't fully funding the Mississippi Adequate Education Program, school districts have fewer teachers, larger class sizes, and outdated resources.
David Hampton is the author of the report. He says all the schools that were surveyed had similar problems.
"All of them reduced teacher positions, they increased the size of their classes, they all drew down their reserves which is their reserve fund that lets them repair buildings and such." said Hampton. "It showed objectively what's the impact of not funding education does in this state. It directly impacts children."
The MAEP -- the program designed to provide an adequate education for Mississippi children -- calculates state aid to local districts. Since it's inception in 1997, lawmakers have only fully funded the program twice, and over the last six years, appropriations have fallen short nearly one point five billion dollars.
James Bacchus is the Superintendent of Hattiesburg Public Schools. 
"We can not do any facility improvements and things of that nature." said Baccus. "So, that's how it impacts us overall. It becomes a greater impact especially when infrastructure is related to technology and that nature is needed, it creates a challenge for us going forward.
However, Republican Representative Randy Boyd of Mantachie believes it will be difficult to get more money out of the budget.
"Funding is not always the answer." said Boyd. "It's a critical part, I must admit, and all we can do is what we can do with our state budget. We're looking at it, and we're getting close to it and I think we're making strides.
The Department of Education is asking for a 308 million dollar increase in funding, but the legislative budget committee is recommending MAEP's budget be kept at Current levels for the next fiscal year.




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