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Tollison: Relying on 2002 Student Population Numbers to Fund Education a Problem
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Rep. Senator Gray Tollison at Miss. Economic Council Breakfast Meeting
Desare Frazier

Mississippi lawmakers say the current public education funding formula relies on student population numbers from 2002.  Some say it's time to update how schools are funded. 

Senate education committee chair Republican Gray Tollison of Oxford, says Mississippi is spending $2.2 million dollars funding public education using the current formula, the Mississippi Adequate Education Program. He says an additional $450,000 is allocated for special needs and other programs. He wants a more comprehensive approach. Tollison supports using recommendations from EdBuild, the company hired to review the state education funding formula. He doesn't know what recommendations will be used, but says he'll be involved in the process.

"We've got our lawyers involved in it. That's who drafts the legislation all the time. But as to what goes into it that's a concensus, we're trying to figure out what we want to put in there," said Tollison.

Tollison talked about the issue at a Mississippi Economic Council meeting. EdBuild recommends allocating funding based on student needs. That means gifted students or poorer districts would receive more dollars. Tuesday, the education committees in both chambers passed dummy bills for public education funding, to give them time to draft a plan using EdBuild's suggestions. Critics like Democrat Rufus Straughter of Belzoni, don't like how the Republican leadership is handling the process.

"You know it looks like what we're doing is dumb. You going to give us a dummy bill. That means we don't know what's in the bill and then they'll bring it there for us to support it," said Straughter. 

Republican John Moore of Brandon, is on the House Appropriations Committee and will be involved in crafting the measure. 

"We want all the districts to be neutral. Whatever funding they received last year we don't want it to alter much," said Moore.

The EdBuild education funding review is posted online at legislature.ms.gov.