Mississippi lawmakers weigh-in on sweeping public education fund - MSNewsNow.com - Jackson, MS

Mississippi lawmakers weigh-in on sweeping public education funding bill

Source: WLBT Source: WLBT
JACKSON, MS (Mississippi News Now) -

A sweeping public education overhaul bill is in motion at the State Capitol.

House members passed the Mississippi Uniform Per Student Funding Formula Wednesday and now it's headed to the Senate. It allows lawmakers to decide how much money districts should get instead of being obligated to a funding formula.

Money for public education is a hot button issue at the state Capitol.

Many fear that this new formula could translate to fewer dollars for schools.

“If you want to change the methodology of how we fund fine, but don't punish the low performing school districts and reward one of the higher performing school districts with more money. And that's what's happening right here today,” said Democratic Representative Chris Bill.

State Lawmakers on both sides of the aisle didn't hold back their opinions on the proposed public-school funding formula that is inching closer to becoming law. The current Mississippi Adequate Education Program, or MAEP, on the books was passed back in 1997.

It required the state to provide enough funding to equip school districts in wealth and poor communities with resources to meet their educational needs

“MAEP was only funded twice and both times it was funded it had great results our students,” said Bell.

Supports of the new proposed formula disagree. The bill will scrap MAEP.  

It will also give lawmakers the ultimate authority to set a flat base student cost instead of an automatic formula and they can review and revise that formula every 4 years.

“I think it's much better what we have now. There's more transparency, there's more openness and last but not least more discretion that goes to local school districts,” said Republican Rep. Hank Zuber.

In addition, around $107 million will be given toward K-12 education than last year, but opponents of the bill say it will still be less than what's considered full funding under the current formula.

“I think it's an attempt by the republicans to dismantle education. Whatever we come up is fair and equitable to all the school districts especially the poor ones,” said Democratic Senator John Horhn.

“Hopefully, the senate will take it up. There will be some minor changes that take place, but hopefully we make those changes and send it back to House and we can get it to the governor,” Zuber said.

Now that the has bill passed the House, the Lt. Governor will have to refer it to a Senate committee or committees. If the bill passes that round of eyes, it will then go to the Senate floor for debate and for a vote.

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