The Mississippi Department of Education expects to ask for 8 percent more in state support in 2018 than it received in 2017.
MPB’s Evelina Burnett reports, the department said during a board of education meeting this week in Biloxi, the increase is mostly due to the current underfunding of the Mississippi Adequate Education Program.
The department expects to ask for $2.8 billion for fiscal year 2018. Superintendent Carey Wright says most of her department’s budget is driven by the MAEP formula. The rest, she says, reflects the department’s reform efforts and priorities.
“What is it that we've said in the strategic plan," she explains, "what are our strategies, where are we headed, and then what's it going to get us there. And what's working and what's not, because we want to jettison what's not working and then ask for those moneys where we know it is working."
The request includes funding for training, early childhood education, and literacy.
The department says its request is virtually even with what it requested this year. But it’s $214 million more than it actually received. Most of that, some $172 million, is due to underfunding of MAEP, it says.
Sam Bounds is executive director of the Mississippi Association of School Superintendents. He says this underfunding is hitting districts hard.
"We're cutting quality programs," he says. "We're having to cut music programs, and band programs, and things like that, and I think that's needed for the education of the whole child. And then the thing that really disturbs me is some of these districts having to lay off teachers. And we need our teachers in the classroom."
More than 1,000 people are attending the superintendent association’s annual conference this week in Biloxi.