Why education advocates are celebrating the $100 million funding boost but still talking about MAEP

Published: Apr. 11, 2023 at 7:23 PM CDT
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JACKSON, Miss. (WLBT) - There’s 100 million extra dollars on the way to schools around our state. How it will be divvied up is based on the number of students enrolled, and it will amount to a little more than $200 dollars per student. However, it’s not exactly what advocates had hoped for.

Pearl Superintendent Chris Chism says with the added money, his district will be able to accelerate projects they’ve had on the books.

“From a personnel standpoint, you know, now’s the time that most districts are renewing all of their technology needs as well,” explained Chris Chism. “So absolutely, the $100 million is gonna help.”

There’s flexibility to the funding. The only thing they can’t use it for is administrative salaries.

“There’s a pro that it’s more money, but it’s a con that we don’t know that that money is going to be put in every single year in the same way,” noted Chism.

And that certainty is why Chism and other superintendents lobbied for the tweaks to the funding formula known as MAEP and full funding of that formula.

“So every single year, we know what we’re going to get,” said Chism. “We’re making decisions in January and February about personnel and other things. Sometimes, we don’t have that budget until March or April. So it’s hard to say, ‘Hey, we’re going to get this. We’re going to get that, or we’re going to need to cut teachers here. We’re going to need to cut central office staff here.’ You know, it’s just, it’s really, really difficult when we don’t have something that we know that this money is going to be there.”

The Mississippi Association of Educators has a survey going.

“We spoke with a lot of educators throughout the state, and our educators voiced they just simply want to be included in the decision-making,” explained MAE President Erica Jones. “What we know and what we have found to be true is that our educators have first-hand experience about what is best for our students in the classroom. And we really hope that our school districts take that into account as they look to expend these funds that have been given.”

The Governor has until April 22nd to sign off on the education budget.

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