School district officials weigh in on proposed funding changes

School district officials weigh in on proposed funding changes

SOUTH MISSISSIPPI (WLOX) - The way your child's education is funded could be changing this year.

The State House passed the Uniform Per Student Funding Formula, which would provide a base amount for every student in the state.

Twenty years ago, Mississippi passed the MAEP formula to fund public schools. Gulfport School District Superintendent Glen East said the formula hasn't worked like it was designed to.

"MAEP fully funded would probably take care of public schools all across the state of Mississippi, but they haven't fully funded it," said East.

In a search to fully and equally fund education, the State House proposal would guarantee every school district in the state $4,800 per student enrolled with additional money dedicated to serving children with specific needs.

The needs would include special education, low income and gifted students.

"I know that if I have "X" number of children in special education, I take that multiplier and I know going into next year how much I have to spend to make sure we can get a great program for those students," East said.

After crunching the numbers, East believes Gulfport Schools would see more cash coming in. "We would gain about $3.5 million," he said. 

However, not everybody sees it as a win. According to Pascagoula-Gautier School District Superintendent Wayne Rodolfich, his district would see $900,000 less, largely due to a higher operating cost for his schools.

Rodolfich would like to see a funding increase based on inflation built into the bill, while East thinks the changes will make it easier to prepare a working budget.

"What the number you have is the number you have," East said. "So when you begin to plan your budget how much money you have to work with."

In addition to the $4,800 proposed statewide, each school district has the option to add more dollars to the amount per student if available from local funding sources.

The State Senate still needs to take up the proposal.

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