Will Your Senator Stand Up for Public Schools This Week?

Many legislators fail to take into account, when voting on the K-12 budget, that the state salary schedule they passed into law requires districts to give each teacher a small salary increase for each additional year of service. That same salary schedule also requires an additional bump in pay when a teacher earns an advanced degree and moves into a higher certification level. 

These increases are well-deserved and critical to attracting and keeping good teachers. The problem is that they haven’t been funded by the state since the 2007-2008 school year (FY2008), leaving local school districts holding the bill for a state-mandated expenditure. Rough estimates show that the annual increase in teacher salaries for years of service – without a real pay raise – costs about $30-million per year statewide. Schools haven’t had an un-obligated $30-million increase in MAEP funding since FY2008. See table.

Add that to the myriad other unfunded mandates over the years, and it’s easy to see why schools have struggled to keep their figurative heads above water. Because of chronic under-funding, many districts are unable to provide Advanced Placement courses and other enrichment or intervention programs that students desperately need, and more programs are now headed to the chopping block. Parents in Ocean Springs are facing the possible loss of that district’s International Baccalaureate (IB) program, and districts across the state are facing similar no-win choices.

The Senate Appropriations Committee will meet this afternoon to decide the Senate’s position on the K-12 funding bill; the full Senate will vote on it tomorrow. Please give committee members and your own senator a call and let them know that school districts need full funding of the MAEP to give our children a decent shot at success. 

Ask your Senator and the Senate Appropriations Committee to ensure that the MAEP is fully funded.

Find contact information for Senate Appropriations Committee members here.

Find contact information for all of the legislators who represent your school district here.

Capitol Switchboard: 601.359.3770

Lt. Governor Reeves  Capitol: 601.359.3200

Here are the facts that legislators should consider:

  • State mandated STEP increases for teachers have outpaced any funding increases in every year since FY2008.
  • When Mississippi schools have been fully funded, achievement has improved; when funding has fallen short, test scores have declined. See graph.
  • In 68 school districts, the state MAEP funding received is not sufficient to cover the district’s teacher salaries and benefits; in 120 school districts, 90 percent or more of the state MAEP funding received is required to cover the cost of teacher salaries and benefits. See how your district fares here.
  • Special education has been under-funded by almost $150-million in the last five years; the House version of the K-12 funding bill under-funds special education for next year by more than $12-million. See details.
  • The MAEP is under-funded this year by $257-million and has been under-funded by more than $1.5-billion in the last seven years. See how much your district is under-funded here.
  • Funding beyond that required for the teacher pay-raise in the House version of HB 1536 is below the FY2008 level, with no restoration of the draconian cuts made during the Great Recession. See the effect on your school district here.
  • Since 2008, the state budget, excluding K-12 education, has risen to more than 30 percent above the pre-recession high, while the K-12 education budget remains below the FY2008 level. See graph.
  • The K-12 budget has lost ground as a percent of the total budget, indicating a shift in priorities. In FY2008, K-12 was appropriated 28 percent of the total state budget; in FY2015, public education received 23 percent of the state budget. See charts.
  • Almost every other state agency budget has recovered from recession under-funding and soared past the pre-recession high established in 2008. K-12 funding remains below FY2008 levels. See graph.
  • In each of the last four years, there has been a budget surplus; in two of those years, the surplus was more than enough to have fully funded the MAEP. See table.

I will attend today’s committee meeting, and I will give you a full report on the debate later this evening.

Every day, more parents are joining our cause to stop the hostile efforts that are undermining public schools. Click here to see how parents are standing up and speaking out on the Fed Up With 50th and Mississippians for Public Education Facebook pages. There is power in numbers, so tell everyone you know to join this exciting movement!

Please make those calls to senators; get your friends and family to call, too. Let’s get moving and get this done for our kids!

As the old proverb says, “When you pray, move your feet.

Speaker Gunn's proposed income tax elimination jeopardizes teacher pay raises and school funding far into the future.

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