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House leaders propose additional public school funding not linked to MAEP

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Coming off conference weekend at the state capitol, one item lawmakers could not come to terms on was fully funding the Mississippi Adequate Education Program.

The Senate had previously voted unanimously to fully fund the program for the first time since 2007. However, House Speaker Philip Gunn argues that the MAEP formula is flawed and that the legislature can fund education without putting any more money into the program.

“We have never had confidence in the MAEP formula. We believe another formula is required. That doesn’t mean we’re not going to put more money into education,” Gunn said. “We are going to offer a proposal to put more money into education. We’re just not going to put more money into the MAEP formula.”

Those in the Senate argued that total funding for MAEP, which is a formula set by state law to determine the funding each public school district should receive to meet academic standards, is necessary for a state that ranks No. 43 in public school education.

“The MAEP formula, we know, is flawed. It’s been broken,” Senator Scott DeLano, R-Biloxi, said prior to conference weekend. “We’ve looked at it a number of times over the past 12 years. I think that more conversations that we have about how we can improve educational outcomes in our state is better, and I certainly support that. I think what’s been brought forward is something that starts a good conversation.”

Rather than fully funding the MAEP, House leaders are proposing the money go to additional teacher pay raises and programs they believe would directly impact students, rather than a formula they contend benefits district office employees.

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