JACKSON, Miss.--Among other items coming to light as a joint legislative committee heard budget requests in the capital city this week, was State Auditor Stacey Pickering's assesment that there was some missing data in the Dept. of Education's budget request.
The letter, which News Mississippi obtained a copy of, shows Pickering has two major concerns. The first, he says, could open the state up to potentially lawsuits.
To paraphrase, Pickering is concerned about the lack of a standard from district to district to calculate the Average Daily Attendance, which is a critical part of the MAEP formula. He says that the lack of standards there calls into question the reliability of how the MAEP budget request is calculated.
Free lunch also made the list of concerns, mainly because there is no law that schools have to verify that a child is actually eligible. He says the data on that is tainted as a result.
Other concerns, according to the letter:
OSA (Pickering's office) has not obtained student data that fully justifies the $47, 984, 854 amount requested for the Gifted Students Add-on Program. Specifically the estimate includes an assumption that a 15 persent increase in teacher units is needed to provide for Gifted Students. Information currently available to OSA does not support this projected increase.
The letter goes on to say that old data has been used to calculate costs for the Vocational and Gifted Educational Add-on Program.
The budget request for MAEP for Fiscal Year 2014 is $2,355,931,306. Of that number, about $447 million are Add-on, Special Ed, Vo-Tech, Gifted and other related costs.