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A New Public Education Funding Formula on the Horizon
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(At Mic) Rep. Richard Bennett addressing House Appropriations Cmte.
Desare Frazier

Mississippi could soon see a new funding formula for public education. Lawmakers say they're crafting a bill that includes recommendations from EdBuild, the company hired to review the state's funding plan. 

Despite reservations from some lawmakers on the House Appropriations Committee, members passed House Bill 1294, a dummy bill, that allows lawmakers to craft a public education funding formula using recommendations from EdBuild. Yesterday was the deadline to pass measures for consideration by the full house out of committees. House Republican Richard Bennett, of Long Beach, is on the education committee. He urged lawmakers to pass the bill, saying the current funding formula, Mississippi Adequate Education Program doesn't work.

"The education and the formula is broke. Because it's broke I think that we need to have a better formula as soon as possible. But if we can't do it within that time frame, then we won't, " said Bennett.

Some House Democrats attempted to stall any changes in public education funding until next year but failed. Bennett says he doesn't have any specifics about what could be in the bill or when details will be available. Democrat Bryant Clark of Holmes County has reservations about some EdBuild recommendations.

"It calls for less money than the current formula. I don't think there's any question in anybody's mind that when we are number 48th out of 50 states in spending that we shouldn't be going in the opposite direction," said Clark.  

Clark says some districts would pay more of their education costs, which could mean raising taxes. Nancy Loome, an education advocate, with the Parents Campaign is disappointed.

"It's just very disappointing that these bills are being held to deadline day, til the very last minute and then they don't even contain the final language," said Loome.

Representative Richard Bennett says it's the house speaker's responsibility to put together a team to draft a new public education funding formula.