School Funding Bill Adopted, Legislature Adjourns Sine Die

Late yesterday, the House and Senate passed a PreK-12 funding bill that increases the public school appropriation by $117-million over the current year.
The agreement leaves public schools underfunded by $161-million, a shameful outcome when Mississippi has an extra $1-billion in recurring revenue. House leaders demanded that any additional dollars for public schools be appropriated outside of the MAEP formula, therefore a $100-million increase in flexible school funding and the funding for last year’s teacher pay raise bypass the MAEP equity provisions that ensure children in high poverty districts have the resources they need to be successful. The assistant teacher pay raise proposed by the House did not make it into the final conference report.
The bill includes:
• Level funding of the MAEP plus $100-million in additional flexible funding to be allocated to districts according to enrollment
• $240-million to cover the second year of last year’s teacher salary increase
• $25-million for teacher supply funds (level funding)
• $24-million for Early Learning Collaboratives (level funding)
• $20-million for public pre-k (level funding)
• $15-million for literacy (level funding)
• $5-million for math coaches (level funding)
• Increased funding for career and technical education
• Increased funding for state special schools: Mississippi Schools for the Blind and the Deaf, Mississippi School for Math and Science, Mississippi School for the Arts
• Full funding for National Board Certification and Chickasaw Cession programs
A separate bill appropriates $3-million for school districts affected by the recent tornadoes.

The additional funding allocated to districts hopefully will prevent teacher lay offs and should save most programs, but it falls woefully short of providing the state-of-the-art science labs, STEM programs, interventionists, mental health specialists, and myriad other things that would ensure Mississippi children the education experience they deserve.
As has been reported broadly, the hang-up was House Speaker Philip Gunn, who dug in his heels, insisting that schools be shortchanged, and argued for far less funding than was in the final deal.
The Senate made clear its position early on, proposing minor adjustments to the MAEP with the intention of fully funding it this year and into the future. In fact, multiple legislators in both chambers went to the mat for fully funded public schools in recent days, but Gunn wore them all down in the end.
You can see the outcome of all the bills we followed here:
The House and Senate adjourned sine die after working past midnight and into the wee hours on Saturday. Thank you for your terrific work throughout what many would agree was among the worst legislative sessions on record! It has been filled with difficult battles, most of which we won. Be watching for a wrap-up email about the mountain of legislation you worked with legislators to kill or improve over the last few months.
I know you are disappointed, as am I, that full funding was not granted our schools. I do believe we have hope for full funding next year, with a new speaker at the helm of the House. Key to that will be electing pro-public school candidates in the primary and general elections later this year.
I am exceedingly thankful that you are on my team. Together, we are standing in the gap to ensure that all Mississippi children have the resources and strong public schools they need to thrive. Together, we are making a difference!
Nancy Loome, Executive Director

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