The original version of HB 1476 underfunds the Mississippi Adequate Education Program (MAEP) for the coming school year by $265-million dollars.
If the Legislature passes pay-raise legislation that mandates $65-million more in teacher salaries for the coming year, that will bring the total amount of increased funding needed to meet the salary increase and fully fund the MAEP to $330-million ($265-million + $65-million).
If the Legislature provides the $65-million required to cover the first year of the pay raise but does not increase MAEP funding, the gap between current funding and full funding of the MAEP will still be $265-million.
If the Legislature provides the $65-million for the teacher pay raise and the House agrees to the $60-million increase in MAEP funding that was passed by the Senate, the level of underfunding will drop to $205-million.
More Broken Promises
State law says that the MAEP formula will be run (or recalculated) only once every four years. In the intervening three years, the funding required to provide an “adequate” education is calculated by adding a fraction of the inflation rate to the prior year’s funding level. The MAEP formula was just recalculated this year, so it won’t be re-run for another four years. That means that any pay raise that is passed by the Legislature will not be included in the formula until the 2018 Legislative Session.
If the Legislature provides the funding required for the teacher pay raise each year, and if they call that “MAEP funding,” it will appear that they are moving closer to full funding of the MAEP when, in fact, they might not be. If the Legislature counts the pay-raise funding as MAEP funding, the pay raise will become an unfunded mandate for school districts.
During the recession, many teachers, counselors, librarians, gifted classes, Advanced Placement courses, intervention programs, etc., were lost due to budget cuts. Class size increased and students lost valuable services as a result. Increasing teacher salaries is important, but it does not replace the courses and services that our children have been shortchanged due to underfunding of the MAEP. When legislators refuse to replace those important components of our children’s education, they are breaking the promise they made to our kids.