Mississippi's public schools could see more money in its coffers over the next fiscal year. House lawmakers have approved a measure that would increase funding for the Mississippi Adequate Education Program or MAEP by more than $100 million.
$2.2 billion, that’s the amount of money lawmakers have suggested putting towards the mechanism that provides mid-level funding for the state's public schools. The amount, which was approved by the House yesterday, would mark a $106 million increase in education spending over last year. Representative John Moore of Brandon is the Chair of the Education Committee.
"At this point people are determined that we are doing everything that we can do," says Moore. "Members of the House feel like we're moving in the right direction, and that might not be as far as everyone wants to go but there is a limit in the amount of money we can appropriate. We don't want to go into our rainy day money. We don't want to go into our one-time capital expense money, because what do you do next year."
Despite the increase, the amount still falls nearly $200 million dollars short of full funding -- or the full amount lawmakers are required to put towards MAEP. Patsy Brumfield is with Better Schools, Better Jobs – a public education advocacy group. She says schools are suffering because they are not getting the appropriations they need.
"A lot of people are just bailing out of the teacher profession because the stress has become so great," says Brumfield. "When you've got more than 30 kids in a classroom with only one teacher, no assistant the likelihood that you won't have materials, textbooks are 25 years out of date, the list goes on-and-on. This is just no way to educate the future economy of Mississippi."
The Mississippi Adequate Education Program was created in 1997, and has only been fully funded twice. The last time was in 2008. Since then the program has gone $1.5 billion underfunded. However, the Republican leadership in the House believes that within the next few years the state should be able to provide full MAEP funding.