School boards association meeting includes discussion on Initiative 42

School boards association meeting includes discussion on Initiative 42

OCEAN SPRINGS, MS (WLOX) - The long battle to implement Initiative 42 was front and center Thursday night at the quarterly meeting of the Gulf Coast School Boards Association.

Since the Secretary of State released the ballot regarding Initiative 42, there has been some confusion. Christie Yoste of the organization 42 For Better Schools wants to make the process of voting simple.

"In order to vote for 42 to have a constitutional amendment, you would vote first here, yes for approval," Yoste said as she pointed to a sample ballot, "and then here for 42."

Supporters say the constitutional amendment approval is complicated but that the Legislative version, Initiative 42A, is a purposeful attempt to stop the grassroots, citizen supported effort.

"It's just a bullying technique," said Dr. Sherry Ponder, president of the Gulf Coast School Board Association. "And I think them going to agencies and saying we're going to cut your funds by 7 or 8 percent is another bullying technique. I think it would be better for us to come out and play fair."

The Mississippi Adequate Education Program was established in 1997 and has been fully funded only twice. Supporters of 42 say a constitutional amendment is necessary to force the state to follow its own laws.

Dr. Tom Clarke, executive director of the Gulf Coast Educational Initiative Consortium, says he would support rethinking the MAEP formula for adequate funding, but it might not be what lawmakers are looking for.

"Adequate may need to be redefined because if the formula, If it needs to be changed, fine," noted Clarke. "Just make sure its adequately identified. What's adequate today is going to be more than what was adequate in 1997."

Jackson County School Superintendent Dr. Barry Amacker, says it would make a big impact on coast schools.

"Here on the coast especially with our kids we've done a great deal with for not very much money but I do believe we could do so much more with additional funds."

Both initiatives, including the vote to approve a Constitutional amendment, will be on the November 3 ballot.

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