Mississippi Democratic lawmakers say they're concerned the Republican leadership is rushing to create a bill to fund public education using recommendations recently released by a consultant. Democrats held a hearing to begin a dialogue about the funding issue.
Up first to testify, 8-year old Kayden Johnson of Wiggins, an aspiring mechanical engineer. He says kids need more technology. Kayden feels adults don't think his education is important. The 4th grader talks about conditions at his elementary school
"The library, it stinks bad. The PE needs air condition and new water fountains and we don't have a bathroom close to any of our activity rooms," said Kayden.
Monete Johnson is with the Education Law Center in New Jersey. She says Mississippi ranks at the bottom for public education funding. The researcher read the recommendations provided by the consultant EdBuild, the firm hired to evaluate the funding formula. She agrees with moving towards allocating monies based on student needs. But Johnson says the report doesn't tell lawmakers what it will cost.
"What we're pushing is for Mississippi legislators to take the time to really look at what it will cost and to build a formula that's really associated with the costs," said Johnson.
House Democrat David Baria of Bay St. Louis, is concerned Republican leaders are writing an education funding bill using the recommendations. He wants lawmakers to have more time to review the report and compare it with the current funding formula, Mississippi Adequate Education Program.
"We've got a committee deadline Tuesday. We're told they're going to pass some sort of dummy bill out that has nothing in it and we just don't think that's how the process oughta work," said Baria.
Republican John Moore of Brandon chairs the House Education Committee.
"There's is no movement whatsoever to try and formulate a bill at this time, in light that it was so late when we received the information," said Moore.
Controversy over funding public education will likely continue as the legislative session progresses.