Funding for public schools continues to decrease, both in actual dollars and as a percent of the overall state budget. For Fiscal Year 2012 (FY2012, the current school year), school funding was cut by an additional $14-million, with $5.5-million coming from the Mississippi Adequate Education Program (MAEP). This means that, for FY2012, the MAEP is underfunded by $237,386,693.
State funding for public education declined in Fiscal Year 2012 (the current school year) for the fourth year in a row while, overall, the state budget increased.
Since last year, of 16 major budget categories (state agencies) in the FY12 state budget, six saw growth in their appropriations for this year. See chart. Funding for K-12 education declined by 0.7% in FY12, while the total state budget grew by 0.03%.
It should be noted that, during the 2011 Legislative Session, a majority of legislators in both the House and Senate heeded their constituents’ calls for level school funding. Both chambers voted in favor of an education budget that provided slightly more than level funding for schools, the increase intended to cover an estimated increase in the amount school districts would be required to pay for retirement.
The Senate, in fact, voted down its leadership’s attempt to reduce the level of funding in the K-12 budget bill by $81-million. However, the Senate leadership refused to honor the position of its members, insisting on reduced funding in the conference committee that was appointed to hammer out the final budget negotiations. This resulted in:
- a $5.5-million cut to the MAEP
- the entire $5.5-million cut to MAEP came from the high growth formula and affected only districts with 3 consecutive years of growth
- a $6-million cut to the ad valorem tax reduction, a move that caused local taxes to increase in a number of districts
- a $2.5-million cut to areas that do not have a direct impact on school budgets