A New Jersey-based, non-profit named EdBuild is beginning the process of reviewing the Mississippi Adequate Education Program.
“There are about 37 states that are funding schools primarily based on the needs of students, Mississippi is not one of those,” says EdBuild CEO Rebecca Sibilia. She says Mississippi’s education funding mechanism is not in line with other formulas from around the nation. “We’ll be encouraging the legislature to think about moving to a student-focused model.”
Republican leaders in the House and Senate entered into a contract with EdBuild earlier this week.
The organization has only been in existence for about two years, but the group has already contracted with two other states including Georgia. Sibilia says the two states have similarities.
“One of the areas that we think we’re probably going to want to analyze is how students in rural areas are being treated in the formula, where they are geographically,” says Sibilia.
And while EdBuild has only just begun the process of examining Mississippi’s education funding formula, questions have already cropped up from some lawmakers and public education advocates about whether the organization will push the state toward further investment in school choice programs like charter schools or vouchers.
Sibilia has previously advocated for school choice while working for different organizations but says EdBuild stays away from advocating certain policies.
“Our focus is to make sure public schools in the state of Mississippi are well-funded and have the resources they need for all of their children to succeed. We focus on funding issues, not governance issues because we really believe that funding is the lever for change.”
Sibilia estimates that it’ll take approximately two months to produce a set of recommendations for Mississippi.