The Mississippi Department of Education will have to cut more than four million dollars from its budget after Governor Phil Bryant ordered state agencies to slash budgets by 1.5 percent to offset a shortfall in revenues.
The Governor’s order calls for eliminating more than $4 million from three line items within the Department of Education budget, the state’s general education fund, vocational and technical training and funding for the schools for the deaf and the blind. The three items amount to nearly $268 million in state money. Superintendent of Education Carey Wright says she’s unsure what aspects of the three programs will be cut.
“What makes it hard is that you’re already halfway through the year,” says Wright. ”It kind of reduces your opportunities in terms of looking for money. I don’t want this to impact our reform work, and I don’t want this to impact districts. So, that’s going to make it even harder, but those are my priorities. To make sure that we’re not impacting the work that we’re doing.”
The Governor’s cuts exempt the Mississippi Adequate Education Program – which provides state funding directly to schools.
But some public education advocates are nervous. Nancy Loome with the Parent’s Campaign believes Mississippi’s children will feel the effects of the cuts.
“Any cuts to education programming in the state certainly will hurt,” Loome says. “School children will to some degree bear the brunt of that along with other state services that are very important to the people of Mississippi.”
In addition to budget cuts, lawmakers have also begun looking into the possibility of changing the Mississippi Adequate Education Program, so that it will require less money to be fully funded.