Today, the Mississippi House and Senate passed HB 1592, the K-12 funding bill that increases the overall appropriation by $12.8-million, including a $3.1-million increase for the Mississippi Adequate Education Program (MAEP) and $2.5-million more for pre-k. That is good news! The bill now goes to Gov. Bryant for his signature.
We are told that a large share of the credit for these increases goes to House Education Chairman Richard Bennett, who fought hard to improve the funding outlook for our public schools. We are thankful for his leadership.
We are making progress, but we have a long way to go to level the playing field on which our children compete with their peers in other states. Our public schools, and the children they serve, remain at a significant disadvantage, even by our own state’s standards.
• HB 1592 underfunds the MAEP for FY2019 by approximately $240-million.
• School district funding for next year is $37-million less than what schools received two years ago.
• The Public School Building Fund, which state law says should get $20-million each year for facility repair and construction, still gets no money at all.
• Only about a third of the tax dollars collected specifically for teacher supplies is used for that purpose, leaving teachers to pay for classroom materials out of their own pockets.
• Mississippi schools receive about $1,300 less per student than public schools in our neighbor states of Arkansas, Alabama, Louisiana, and Tennessee.
Legislators still have work to do on a number of bills, which they expect to complete in the next couple of days. Watch your inbox for a final wrap-up of the 2018 Legislative Session when the Legislature adjourns sine die.