Legislature reviews school funding to focus on classroom, student needs
The Mississippi Legislature is reviewing the state’s school funding formula in an effort to direct more tax dollars to the classroom. Nonprofit EdBuild was hired to examine the funding formula for public schools known as the Mississippi Adequate Education Program, or MAEP. This formula comprises more than $2.2 billion of the state’s annual budget -- the single largest expenditure of taxpayer dollars.
EdBuild will determine ways school funding can target needs for special education, career technology, gifted students and low-income students. Superintendents, teachers, school business officers, parents and students from across Mississippi have met with the company.
The Legislature will incorporate many of the suggestions when revamping the formula.
According to EdBuild, Mississippi is one of six states that fund education for students with special needs based on programs, but the majority of states use a student-based formula for these costs. The state also does not effectively direct funds to help improve the academic performance of students in the bottom quartile of test scores.
The effort to invest more tax dollars into the classroom builds on legislative efforts to raise student achievement. Under Republican leadership, more than $45 million has been directed to efforts to improve reading skills, teacher salaries have increased with starting teacher pay being among the highest among neighboring states, and students with special needs can use scholarships to fund programs that meet their educational needs.
As a result graduation rates have increased, reading skills have improved and fourth grade students are performing better in reading and math as compared to their peers nationally.
Link to EdBuild’s October 2016 presentation to the House and Senate Education Committees.