Money Makes Education A Priority

Educators say the legislature routinely waits until late in the session before even considering school funding. So it is a pleasant surprise that both the Senate and House acted so quickly to pass the desperately needed money.

One teacher says she's glad to see lawmakers put Mississippi's future first. Diane Miller has taught school for 26 years. She says the legislature's pledge to spend millions of dollars on education is a dream come true for every teacher in our state.

"We have always longed for the governor and the legislature to fund education first. I can remember education was last and the legislature would be scrambling when they were about to close and trying to find money to fund education and I always felt as a teacher that we always got what was left over if there was anything left over," Miller says.

Superintendents say it's time lawmakers realize that schools are barely scraping by and can't survive budgets that keep shrinking.

Gulfport School Superintendent Carlos Hicks says, "Colleges have been in dire trouble, so have community colleges and the K through 12 system has been in dire straits for the past three years. What we don't like most is having to raise taxes locally to make up for the legislature not funding education when they know they ought to and say they want to and I hope they've taken care of it."

Last year the legislature slashed more than 70 million dollars from public education. Harrison County's Superintendent says the new money should help restore those lost dollars.

"Last year was cut and this year it appears to be it's going to be very close to or at full funding of what is necessary. It's putting a priority on what is needed for this state."

The total amount of money passed by both the House and Senate is very close to what Governor Musgrove asked lawmakers to spend on education. He wanted them to spend 62-percent of the state's projected three and a half billion dollar general fund.