Legislators increased funding to school districts by $117-million for 2023-2024. Even so, public schools remain significantly underfunded in the current school year, $175.8-million short of what state law says our students and teachers need to be successful.
What would adequate funding mean for our children and our public schools? To be successful, children need high quality early childhood education, an excellent teacher in every classroom, an excellent leader in every school and district, and enough time on task to master the skills our standards require.
Mississippi has increased its investment in state-funded pre-k dramatically in recent years, appropriating a total of $44-million for 2023-2024. Salaries for teachers and assistant teachers risen substantially. Investments in reading and math coaches have yielded strong academic results. Yet, vast needs remain.
Funding owed to your school district could be used to reduce class sizes and give teachers more time with individual students, hire teachers for advanced STEM classes and high-tech programs such as robotics, expand counseling and remediation services, hire dyslexia therapists, provide extended school day programs, and purchase books, technology, and materials that would enhance the education provided to our children.
See information about the Mississippi Adequate Education Program (MAEP), a formula set by state law to determine the funding each public school district should receive from the state in order to meet academic standards established by the State Board of Education.
The last time Mississippi’s public schools were fully funded was in the 2007-2008 school year. Though the Legislature voted for full funding in two subsequent years, the Great Recession resulted in mid-year budget cuts, and schools never received the full allocation. Since that time, Mississippi’s public school children have had their education shortchanged a staggering $3.5-billion.
Following the Great Recession and the 2011 Election, public education received short shrift, and nearly every other state agency recovered its pre-recession level of funding before public schools were restored to theirs. From 2012 through 2019, Mississippi’s public schools suffered their worst underfunding in state history. A recent study by The Parents’ Campaign Research and Education Fund found that 73 school districts spent more on teacher salaries and benefits alone (no administrator salaries, classroom materials, heat and air, etc.) than they received in their total MAEP allocation.
Nationally, Mississippi ranks near the bottom, 48th among the states, in per pupil school spending (U.S. Census, Public Education Finances: FY 2021, published May 2023) but much higher, 25th among the states, in the rigor of our academic standards (Education Next, published May 2018).