by Jon Kalahar
Many look at the state's education budget and point out the things missing, from teacher pay raises to classroom supply money.
But Governor Haley Barbour says the bill he signed today sets the state on the right track to improving student achievement.
With his signature, Governor Haley Barbour appropriated billions of dollars worth of state money to Mississippi's education system.The Governor readily admits this budget couldn't fund every need including pay raises for teachers.
"We'll continue to increase teacher pay, but we'll have to do it within the means that we have and this year the funds weren't there," said Barbour.
But there are positives. The Mississippi Adequate Education Program is fully funded for the second year in a row, more experienced teachers will see incremental pay raises, and the State superintendent's high school redesign program received thirteen million dollars.
The Mississippi Association of Educators Kevin Young says pay raises for the state's experienced teachers will partly solve the state's teacher shortage.
"We have some great experienced teachers who are leaving at that 25th year, 30th year, now here's an incentive for them to stay in the classroom," said Kevin Young, Mississippi Association of Educators president.
And first time programs, make this budget extremely beneficial for the state.
So while there wasn't enough money to fully fund an across the board teacher pay raise, the trade off is first time programs like teacher mentoring and dyslexia screening in schools.
Representative Brian Aldridge's wife has battled dyslexia her whole life. He believes identifying the student early will lead to fewer dropouts later in their school careers.
"When you identify these characteristics, when you have the proper therapy implemented into their living environment, these children can do anything you or I can," said Rep. Brian Aldridge,(R) Tupelo.
Barbour says this bill has one goal in mind.
"That's to improve student achievement, the children are what this is all about," said Barbour.
The Governor remains optimistic the Mississippi Adequate Education Program will be funded through out the remainder of his term. And he believes next year teacher pay raises will be achieved.