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MAEP formula in limbo as lawmakers look for change possibilities

There’s a potential catch-22 brewing in the Capitol as lawmakers evaluate the recommendations that have been made regarding how to change the formula by which public schools are funded in Mississippi.

EdBuild recommended the Weighted Student Formula over the current Mississippi Adequate Education Program formula. EdBuild called the model “student-centered” and said it would create a more equitable funding system.

“This will smooth out large discrepancies in per-student funding between districts in the state,” said the report.

The “discrepancies” could be funded through increased property taxes in larger, suburban areas, according to the EdBuild recommendations.

However, lawmakers on both sides of the aisle are hesitant to raise local taxes and property taxes to cover the funding that public school districts need. The state has always bore 73 percent of the burden of cost of education, but EdBuild recommended lowering that.

Click here for more EdBuild recommendations.

Right now, lawmakers are still trying to process the suggestions.

“There was a 79 page study of the recommendations EdBuild made,” said Senate Appropriations chairman Buck Clarke. “We all got a copy of it to look over.”

Senator Clarke said all that is education related on the Senate docket are bills related to transparency.

“It’s asking that the school districts have the same accounting system so they can be compared district to district,” said Clarke.

Clarke said there’s a ways to go before there’s a bill to discuss the recommendations. Senator Grey Tollison has authored a bill that would bring up discussion of the MAEP formula that Clarke said is a placeholder to insure that discussion will happen this session.

Clarke said the struggle is to look at how the recommendations could impact each district.

“We have to see why it is different from MAEP,” said Clarke. “We have to look at all those aspects of EdBuild versus the MAEP formula.”

As far as a price tag for the switch is concerned, there’s not much out there according to House Appropriations Chair John Read, but the aim is to keep everyone held harmless in the process.

“Until we see something, I don’t want to comment on numbers,” said Read. “There’s people working to come up with a final product.”

News Mississippi will continue to follow the potential changes in MAEP.


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