Public education funding must be a priority at state

By PAT BROWN,

W e have a bit of a hard time figuring how the Missississippi Legislature would vote to fund a new type mechinism for public education when they had one in place for 20 plus years and only fully funded it two times in that time period.  What makes this even more interesting is the fact that it will cost more than what is currently be funded by the state. 

  The current program that we are under is the Mississippi Adequate Education Program and in addition to student population it takes into account issues like average daily attendance, special needs as well as many other factors in dtermining how much funding is needed for each school district. 

  According to an article that appeared in this past weekend’s Clarion Ledger funding for the new program, EdBuild, will be implemented over a seven year period.  The cost of funding for the new program is $107 million more than what is currently being spent.  To fund the current MAEP for the upcoming year would have cost $5,466.62 and the new formula would have the cost for a “C-rated” school district would be $4,800 per student. 

   We spoke with Representative Andy Gipson who supported the legislation and he said that Simpson County would actually received more funding than they currently are under MAEP.

  The reason all of this has surfaced is because last year a suit was filed because districts were not funded by the state to a level to assure a level playing ground for all districts.  There also was discussion as to whether the legislature could be mandated to fund a budget.  Their vote said no. 

  So it is correct there will be additional funding to Simpson County but that is based on increases in student population.  The more students you have the more funding there is and yes the district will receive additional funding for poverty levels. 

  EdBuild has established a maximum of 27 percent of funding that would be raised locally through taxes. 

  Another problem with the existing system is while the funds were established there was not a requisite that the funds had to be spent for example in the classroom.  This all comes back to accountability.  There will be additional accountability from the superintendents perspective since that position will no longer be elected.  It will then be the responsibility of the school board to see that the funding is managed properly.  

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Area high schools have chosen their top graduates for special honors at graduation ceremonies across the county this month.  They will be recognized and speak to audiences at those ceremonies.