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Legislative committees meet with organization for MAEP evaluation

JACKSON, MISS– A joint meeting of the Mississippi House and Senate education committees was held with representatives from EdBuild at the state capitol Thursday. 

EdBuild is a non-profit organization based out of New Jersey that has been hired by the state legislature to make recommendations regarding the Mississippi Adequate Education Program formula.

Rebecca Sibilia, CEO of Edbuild, discussed the MAEP formula and the direction the organization believes the state needs to be in.

“The huge obligation that the legislature has,” said Sibilia. “Is to make sure that the state funding that is being provided to school districts is representative to student needs…it is the state’s responsibility to make sure that those funds are being provided adequately, fairly,and transparently.”

Many of the committee members in attendance were concerned about the formula, saying that when MAEP is not fully funded, even high performing school districts are punished, because funds are cut.

“The intention of the funding formula is not necessarily to reward or punish (students) based on their performance,” said Sibilia. “the primary focus of funding schools is to make sure that districts have the funding to give students that opportunity (to perform).”

Sibilia added that the formula is not perceived to be student-based, and that she has been tasked with providing feedback on what could be implemented.

“We’ve been asked to provide preliminary recommendations by the end of this calendar year,” said Sibilia. “We anticipate continuing to be involved in the process as the legislative process moves forward into next year.”

Lt. Governor Tate Reeves and Speaker of the House Philip Gunn announced the legislature’s move to hire EdBuild earlier in October.

“It’s time to re-evaluate the effectiveness,” said Speaker Gunn. “Is the formula doing what we want it to do?”

Lt. Gov Tate Reeves said it was time for an update to the formula.

“When the formula was adopted, we didn’t even have a computer in the classroom,” said Lt. Gov. Reeves. “And now we have tablets, iPads, and iPhones…any formula, that has over the last number of years, called for the increased spending in administration and less spending in instructional is a formula that ought to be reviewed.”

The EdBuild CEO said Mississippi’s formula is not unlike systems in place nationwide.

“Mississippi is similar to many other states that rely on a funding formula that is antiquated and arbitrary,” said Rebecca Siblilia, CEO of EdBuild in a statement. “The needs of the classroom are not the same as they were 20, 50, or 100 years ago, and states’ funding mechanisms should reflect that progress in education.”

News Mississippi will be at the meeting. Follow on Twitter @News_MS.

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