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Education funding reform passes from committee, heads to Senate floor

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The deadline for Committee action on the MAEP re-write for funding public education in Mississippi is here. The bill passed the Senate education committee and will now head to the Senate calendar. The bill needs to be voted on by March 7th after which it will likely go back to the House for a vote on any amendments made by the Senate education committee. Senator David Blount who is a member of the Senate Education Committee said there will likely be amendments attached.

However, Senator Blount says there are some issues with the bill.

“The basic problem is that it spends less money and school districts don’t need less money,” Blount said. “They need more money to educate our children.”

Blount added that the money for the education funding bill will be coming from the general fund.

“The education re-write bill is trying to solve a political problem and a budget problem for the Republican leadership,” Blount said. “They don’t have the money, or they don’t want to spend the money on the public schools so they needed a new formula.”

Senator Brice Wiggins, another member of the Senate Education committee said that he is in support of funding the bill and that they have added some amendments to the bill.

He said he is looking forward to passing the bill through the Senate because the re-write is student-focused, provides more funding for high performing districts, as well as, more funding for ELL programs and it also gives a permanent funding stream for early learning collaboratives.

1) Student-Focused: The recommendations would require schools and districts to tailor their environment to the student, rather than the other way around, bringing allocation of Mississippi’s education dollars into the 21st Century.

2) More Funding for High Performing Districts like Ocean Springs: Of the estimated projected additional $107 million in funding, the Ocean Springs School District stands to receive almost $4,000 more per student. Ocean Springs School District school leaders and their dedicated staffs have done everything we have asked them to do in terms of providing a stellar education to all of our children. They have added programs and enhancements to help those with special needs and circumstances have continually dealt with increasing school enrollment, while always striving and meeting the highest academic standards. They have been doing this for many years despite being at a disadvantage due to a cap on funding.

3) More Funding for ELL Programs: The bill contains more money dedicated and directed to ELL students, which will benefit Coast schools as a whole, including the Pascagoula-Gautier School District

4) Permanent Funding Stream for Early Learning Collaboratives: House Bill 957 provides, for the first time, a permanent funding stream for Early Learning Collaboratives (ELCs) that have been immensely successful in elevating the level of preparedness our children bring with them to first grade and have helped Mississippi garner top ranks nationally for our work in this area.

“I am encouraged about the positive action the Senate Education Committee took today and will continue to listen to all recommendations that will benefit the education and care of the children in our state,” Wiggins said.

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