New Funding Formula Pros and Cons

By: Wendy Suares and Wade Phillips
By: Wendy Suares and Wade Phillips

Gov. Haley Barbour signed an education funding bill that will fully fund education over four years.

The current funding formula, Mississippi Adequate Education Program, was put into law in 1997, but lawmakers only fully funded it once since then.

Barbour says the new plan will result in a stable, predictable, funding increase.

"Senate bill 2604 is a realistic and responsible approach to get where we all want to be, and it seems to me it will depoliticize the debate on education funding," said the governor.

The plan will fully fund school districts that are experiencing high growth. Among those are Jackson, Madison, Rankin, and Desoto County school districts.

But some local educators reacted to the signing with approval. Many of them say they were hoping for more, but at the same time they're glad for what they will be getting.

It's a typical day in Celia Hall's senior advanced placement English class at Southeast High School in Lauderdale County. Macbeth is on the menu, but getting more money for her school is on her mind.

"We definitely need improvements to the buildings," said Hall. "We definitely need additional textbooks. We definitely need other supplies for our students. We need to offer more."

More is what they'll now be getting, though not as much as many of them hoped they would. The plan signed by the governor would phase in full funding for education over four years instead of fully funding it this year.

That full funding is something many educators statewide have pushed for, but Southeast officials say they'll be happy with whatever increase they get.

"I know all the education agencies would love to have full funding, but that's just not going to happen," said Southeast Principal Billy Burnham. "So I'm glad to see this plan that would phase in full funding over four years."

Of course, not all educators agree with the phase in. Critics say it gives the Legislature another chance to shortchange education in the coming years.

You won't get that kind of talk from Celia Hall though. She says she's glad the governor signed the bill.

"It's a good thing. It's a good thing. I'm proud of him for doing it," Hall said.

Now, Hall and other educators hope the Legislature will stick to the plan.


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