Funding is on the minds of many Mississippi school administrators, ahead of this fall’s vote on an initiative that lays out a plan for fully funding the Mississippi Adequate Education Program. MPB’s Evelina Burnett spoke with school leaders at the Mississippi Association of School Superintendents annual conference in Biloxi.
Eleven hundred school administrators are on the coast this week for the conference, and Initiative 42 is one of the main topics of conversation.
Some Mississippi lawmakers have said state agencies may face cuts if Initiative 42 passes. But association executive director Sam Bounds says that’s misleading.
"That's not what it's about," he says. "It's about making a commitment to our students to say, when Mississippi grows in revenue, we'll take 25% of that revenue and put it in our kids future."
Holmes County School District superintendent Powell Rucker, the outgoing president of the association, says lack of funding in his district has been a struggle.
"We've had to cut assistant teachers, we've cut teachers, we've cut everything that we can cut," Rucker says.
Among the cuts - professional development. Rucker says that's impacted one of the district’s other major struggles: teacher retention.
"When you fail to provide the proper professional development to the teachers, they only work a couple of years and they're gone, because they didn't receive the support that they needed," he says.
According to supporters, Initiative 42 recommends maintaining current school funding levels, adjusted for inflation, and adds at least 25% of future general fund increases, with the hope of achieving full funding by 2022.