Mississippi’s public schools could get funding boost from legislature this session

Published: Mar. 2, 2023 at 7:57 PM CST
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JACKSON, Miss. (WLBT) - Your child’s school could get more money from the state next school year. The legislature hasn’t held up its end of the bargain most years. But say they’re working to change that trend this year.

“The goal is to fully fund MAEP this year,” said Sen. Dennis DeBar as he chaired Tuesday’s Senate education committee.

If you’re not into politics and maybe you may be asking what MAEP is. It stands for the Mississippi Adequate Education Program.

“[MAEP] is the formula that is created, established that funds our schools,” said DeBar.

Even though it’s been part of Mississippi law since 1997, MAEP has been fully funded twice, in 2003 and 2007.

“Let’s remember that MAEP when fully funded under the current formula only is providing funding for a “C” level of education,” explained Kelly Riley, Executive Director of Mississippi Professional Educators. “So, we’re not talking about an “A” level Cadillac version. You know, we’re talking about two average version mid-level for a student’s educational experience.”

But with DeBar’s comments this week, there’s optimism that this year could be different.

“MAEP is paying for our transportation,” said Riley. “It is paying for the lights on in the buildings. It is paying for utilities. So it provides the backbone and the infrastructure to support our schools. And so reliable funding is extremely, extremely important to our districts.”

Senator DeBar says they’re planning to make some changes to the formula that’s never been updated.

“We’re trying to make sure we can move forward with a formula that’s equitable for all but is updated to meet the current existing state of our economy and so forth,” noted DeBar.

The Senate hasn’t revealed exactly what those changes will include but...

“Just hang close with me,” said Lt. Governor Delbert Hosemann Wednesday. “We did the teacher pay raise. We’ve been helping schools. Obviously, the next step is to get MAEP towards something that’ll make a meaningful difference to kids in Mississippi. I’m committed to that. And I’m real hopeful.”

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