Changing the Formula: Democrats respond to Republicans’ plans

JACKSON, Miss. (WJTV) – It’s an attempt to make sure more money is going into the classrooms and not administrator’s pockets.

That’s what republican leaders told WJTV recently about changing the school funding formula; the Mississippi Adequate Education Program.

Democrats feel like they’ve been left out of a process that House Speaker Philip Gunn says has been in the works for a couple of months.

“We don’t want an overwhelming amount of our money going to administration costs and not getting in to the classroom.”

“A lot of us feel like we’ve been left out of the process. It didn’t go through the full legislature. We didn’t know anything about it.”

Republican House Speaker Philip Gunn, along with Lt. Governor Tate Reeves, want to rewrite the state’s funding formula; claiming they want to cut administrative cost, Democrat Jarvis Dortch believes otherwise.

“We fully expect them to rewrite the formula where it calls for less money for school districts. It allows them to do more privatization, more charter schools, more vouchers. I think that’s the blueprint there’re looking for,” said Rep. Jarvis Dortch.

So we took a look at some of the most expensive administrative costs across the state and at some school districts in the metro; Desoto County coming in with the most expensive at $10,000,000 followed by Jackson Public Schools at more than $8,000,000 but those are two of the largest school districts in Mississippi.

Rankin County’s administrative costs are nearly 3,000,000, Madison is $1,700,000.

“We should take a look at how much money is being spent on administration but to actually scrap the entire program; we’re talking about a $2,000,000,000 program and you’re talking about $8,000,000 that doesn’t really make the difference in these children’s education,” said Rep. Dortch.

The state hired EdBuild, a New Jersey company tasked with evaluating the MAEP funding formula.

The total contract is $250,000; the state is responsible for paying $125,000, another eyebrow raise from Democrats.

“All departments across the state, that are cutting services, somehow the state comes up with $125,000 to give a private company in New Jersey a contract and there’s no bid; we’re all concerned about how this process even go started,” said Rep. Dortch.

“The amount currently that we’re responsible for is $125,000 but hopefully we’ll be able to find some other dollars to help defray that cost,” said Speaker Gunn.

Since MAEP was created 20 years go, it’s only been fully funded twice.

However, in just three years, the state has invested 50,000,000 on literacy coaches, which have improved test scores.

No final changes can be made to the funding formula without legislative approval, something we can expect to see up for debate come January when the session begins.


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