Less State Funding for Mississippi Schools?
We have taken a close look at the EdBuild recommendations, and one thing is perfectly clear - changing any one of the dozens of variables in a small way has a big impact on individual school districts. The bottom line, though, appears to be less state funding for public schools than is now required by the MAEP (and far less than what neighboring states provide their students).
Two issues of great concern:
• Eliminating the formula that requires the Legislature to provide adequate funding to schools, leaving the base student cost to political whims each year. Funding is likely to remain stagnant indefinitely, and schools will go further into the red every year due to inflation, teacher salary "step" increases, and new mandates. READ MORE
• Shifting the school funding burden to the local level by eliminating the "27% option." Requiring local communities to pay more of the school funding cost will force local tax increases and will likely lead to equity lawsuits when local leaders decline to raise the necessary taxes. If the 27% option were not currently in place, some districts would not be getting a single penny in state education funding - including a district with a 91% poverty rate. ("Property-rich" does not necessarily align with school district wealth.) READ MORE
This process needs to slow down so that the best ideas are retained and the negative impacts are eliminated. The public deserves statewide hearings on an issue so important to our children and local communities. It would be irresponsible for legislators to pass a "dummy bill" out of committee and forego the opportunity to amend the bill and have a full debate in committee.
Ask your legislators to:
• Vote no on any changes to the school funding formula until constituents have had an opportunity to review the legislation, analyze the full impact, and weigh in.
• Vote no on any expansion of vouchers. (Oppose bills that use public tax dollars to pay tuition at private schools or expand the special needs vouchers to children who do not have special needs.)
• Vote no on changes to the way school board members are selected. (Electing all board members at the time of the presidential election paves the way for out-of-state privatizers to recruit and fund candidates and take over your local school board.)
Share the same message with Lt. Governor Reeves, Capitol: 601.359.3200, and Speaker Gunn, Capitol: 601.359.3300.
Committees have until next Tuesday to consider and vote on all bills that originated within their own chambers, so please make sure that you and your friends contact your legislators this week. Teachers and students have made great strides in student achievement, and they deserve the very best that we, as a state, can give them. Thank you for standing in their corner. Together, we've got this!
NOTE: We have been told time and again that phone calls and face-to-face meetings are by far the most effective method of getting your message across to your legislators. Please call - and show up for town meetings!