The Mississippi Department of Education is expected to ask lawmakers for a 14.5% increase in funding during the next legislative session. The budget includes a request to fully fund the Mississippi Adequate Education Program - or MAEP - for the first time since 2008.
The state Board of Education has set a $2.8 billion budget to run Mississippi's public education system during the 2016 fiscal year. The amount which was approved during the board's monthly meeting yesterday, is nearly 370 million more then lawmakers allotted for this year. Carey Wright is the state Superintendent of Education.
"I think we've put forth a pretty sound budget, actually." says Wright. "I think what we've been trying to do in terms of what for additional items on is to just look and see what we had budgeted, and then what we're things that we had been hearing from districts and other people that were needed, what we knew was needed and that's really where the list came on."
A large chunk of that request is part of an effort to get lawmakers to fully fund MAEP -- the mechanism the state uses to determine how much should be appropriated to public schools. The program has not received full financial backing in six years, and is currently 257 million dollars short of leaglly required levels. House Appropriations Chair Herb Frierson of Poplarville says he's not sure the legislature will be able to fully fund the department's request.
"We'll do the best we can." says Frierson. "That's all you really can do. If you don't have enough money to do it with; you just do the best you can. Unless the state Board of Education is advocating cutting $300 million out of of all the other state agencies and giving it to them. If that's what they're saying then they need to come right out and say that."
The Board of Education is legally required to seek full funding of MAEP.