State lawmakers propose $181 million plan to fully fund MAEP

Published: Mar. 6, 2023 at 11:13 PM CST
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JACKSON, Miss. (WLBT) - The school your child goes to could soon be getting more money from the state. Lawmakers in the Senate are proposing a plan to fully fund the Mississippi Adequate Education Program (MAEP). Under the proposal, the state would allocate just over $181 million to fund the program. The plan was unveiled on Monday during a joint meeting of the Senate Appropriations and Education Committees.

“You see us methodically going about making Mississippi’s education the best in the country,” said Lieutenant Governor Delbert Hosemann. “We don’t just compete with Alabama anymore, we compete with the world, and we fully intend for our children to be competitive when they get there.”

Even though it’s been part of Mississippi law since 1997, MAEP has been fully funded twice, in 2003 and 2007.

This would mark the third time if the bill becomes law.

“Our Senate has been really focused on education, and that’s where we should’ve been,” said Hosemann. “This is a continuation of that. It’s not anything other than that. We got the money here, and the reason we got this money is because we have been running Mississippi government like a business. We’ve got additional funds; we’re spending them on things we ought to be spending them on.”

Included in this plan are a few changes to the formula, including putting a limit on how much cities and counties can contribute, and changing the way the base student cost is calculated.

”The inflationary rate is at 40 percent,” said Senator Dennis DeBar, who represents District 43. “So, what that means is we take the base student cost, multiply that by 40 percent, and continue on with the formula. We’re going to reduce that 40 percent down to 25 percent. The new proposal, after running the new formula, will result in a fully funding amount of $181.1 million, so $181 million to fully fund MAEP this year.”

”No school district will lose any money,” said Senator Sollie Norwood, who represents District 28. “All schools are going to receive an increase. The increase is going to be based on average student attendance.”

Norwood said the increase will differ depending on the size of the school district. For the Jackson Public School District, under the plan, it would see an increase of roughly $14 million.

”School districts, the superintendents, are going to be jumping for joy,” said Senator Norwood. “Hopefully, they will use that to go out and start recruiting new teachers to come in the fall so they will be fully staffed at the beginning of the year.”

“Another advantage of these changes is it does provide consistency in funding the formula going forward,” said Senator Debar. “Under this formula, id no other increase in teacher pay, and things of that nature are included, to fully fund MAEP next year, it would be approximately $24 million.”

Gov. Tate Reeves, though, said in a statement he’s wary of the proposal and the Democratic support behind it.

“Be very cautious of a last-minute change in funding that seems to have unanimous support amongst Democrats in [the] Senate and liberal activist groups. Very, very cautious, instead of funneling money to the district offices - where our kids won’t see it - why not another teacher pay raise? Put it in the classroom.”

If passed, the legislation would go into effect for the upcoming school year. The proposal passed out of committee on Monday and is expected to come up on the floor for a vote on Tuesday.

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