State Issues Affecting P–12 and/or Higher Education Funding
A common misconception in Mississippi is that public education funding makes up 60% of the state’s total budget. Although both public universities and K–12 school districts are included in the general fund of Mississippi, combined they make up less than half of the state’s overall budget. Furthermore, when state tax revenues are accounted for, public education represents only approximately 22% of the state’s total budget.15
Funding Priorities/Trends for P–12 and/or Higher Education
Mississippi has the lowest median household income in the country at $36,916 and ranks 46th nationally in K–12 student per-pupil expenditures.16 Approximately 22% of all educational funding came from the federal government, and the state ranks 45th nationally in average teacher salary and classroom expenditures at $4,563.17 Furthermore, at just $2,840 per-pupil expenditure, Mississippi is near the bottom for student support services as well.18
Changes to the Funding Formula for P–12 and/or Higher Education
The Mississippi Adequate Education Program (MAEP) funding formula was founded upon the concepts of equity and adequacy. The formula creates an adequate up-to-date mechanism for determining the funding levels required for each school district to meet successful (at least Level III) in the accreditation system as established by the Mississippi State Board of Education. MAEP is designed to accommodate all schools regardless of geographic location.19 [End Page 263]
The formula for Mississippi is as follows:
1. Average daily attendance × Base student cost + At-risk component – Local contribution + 8% guarantee = MAEP formula allocation.
2. MAEP formula allocation + Add-on programs (special education, gifted education, vocational education, alternative education, and transportation) = Total MAEP district funding.20
Impact on School District or Higher Education Budgets
Mississippi education policy makers are currently addressing how to more accurately calculate average daily attendance (ADA).21 Currently, ADA is measured in grades K–12 using months two and three of the preceding school year—excluding self-contained special education ADA. In January, State Auditor Stacey Pickering stated a lack of consistent data for attendance figures was a major concern. According to Pickering, some schools count a student present if he or she shows up momentarily while other schools require attendance for the majority of the day.22 Pickering proposed using an attendance requirement of two-thirds of a day as a standard system of measure.23 Looking ahead, the present estimate of school funding in 2015 is $2.35 billion, equaling $5,055 per student using the present funding formula.24
15. Parents’ Campaign, “Mississippi Adequate Education Program (MAEP),” www.msparentscampaign.org/mx/hm.asp?id=MAEP
17. “States Spending the Least on Education: 24/7 Wall St,” Huffington Post, www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/06/02/states-education-spending_n_3375632.html
19. Miss. Code Ann. §37-151-7.
21. Mississippi PEP, “Gaming the System: Pickering Says MAEP Funding Data Is Inaccurate.” http://mississippipep.wordpress.com/2013/01/30/gaming-the-system-pickering-says-maep-funding-data-is-inaccurate
24. Jeff Amy, “Mississippi School-Funding Formula Dips by $28M in Early Look,” Sun Herald, July 18, 2013, http://www.sunherald.com/2013/07/18/4806455/mississippi-school-funding-formula.html