School funding formula looms as top 2017 issue for lawmakers

FILE PHOTO Mississippi Board of Education member William Jones holds a sheet of unassigned reviews that he sought specific identification of the school districts from the Mississippi Department of Education's Research and Development department, Thursday, Aug. 18, 2016. during a meeting in Jackson, Miss. A task force and the lower-ranking Commission on School Accreditation voted for more As and fewer Fs than officials with the state Department of Education. (AP Photo/Rogelio V. Solis)

JACKSON, Miss. (AP) – Days before the start of Mississippi’s 2017 Legislature, it remains to be seen what changes Republican leaders might support in education funding.

The nonprofit group EdBuild was hired to recommend changes, but the leader said Wednesday that recommendations were not finished yet. EdBuild CEO Rebecca Sibilia says she wants to hand them to lawmakers by Saturday.

FILE PHOTO Rebecca Sibilia, CEO of EdBuild, a New Jersey non-profit hired by legislative committees to make recommendations on school funding policies of Mississippi's education funding formula, listens to a speaker during a public comment forum at the Capitol in Jackson, Miss., Thursday, Nov. 17, 2016. House and Senate Republicans are considering a rewrite of the Mississippi Adequate Education Program, which has been fully funded only twice since it was created in 1997. (AP Photo/Rogelio V. Solis)
FILE PHOTO Rebecca Sibilia, CEO of EdBuild, a New Jersey non-profit hired by legislative committees to make recommendations on school funding policies of Mississippi’s education funding formula, listens to a speaker during a public comment forum at the Capitol in Jackson, Miss., Thursday, Nov. 17, 2016. House and Senate Republicans are considering a rewrite of the Mississippi Adequate Education Program, which has been fully funded only twice since it was created in 1997. (AP Photo/Rogelio V. Solis)

Sibilia says EdBuild probably won’t recommend less money than Mississippi currently spends. Republican House Speaker Philip Gunn has said he’s looking for more efficiency, not less money. But changes would likely result in losses for some districts unless lawmakers increase total spending.

Lawmakers have fully funded the current Mississippi Adequate Education Program only twice since enacting it in 1997. From 2009 through now, funding has fallen a cumulative $1.9 billion short.

 

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