State Auditor Shad White has released new information regarding the state’s education system.
With inflation accounted for, in the last 10 years, spending on teachers salaries and benefits in Mississippi has decreased by 3%. However, During the same time, spending on administrator salaries and benefits has grown by 10%.
White, who recently came under fire for his audit of outside the classroom spending, says he wants to make sure teachers are informed about where the education dollars are going. He continued saying that others in Mississippi are starting to take a look at the money trail citing a recent announcement from the state’s largest school district, the Jackson Public Schools where the new superintendent of JPS found $1 million in administrative cost savings that they will soon be implementing.
“I think a lot of teachers out there are thankful to have a better understanding of how money is being spent and they have got the ammunition now to ask good questions and normal taxpayers and parents have the ammunition to ask good questions about where the money is going now as well.”
Despite backlash from others saying the audit is an “egregious misrepresentation of the facts”, White says he is not deterred.
“There’s a collective group of activists and a few crazies out there on the left who absolutely cannot handle somebody asking questions about this sort of thing,” said White.
The first report showed outside-the-classroom spending on administration and non-instruction activities has increased in Mississippi over the last decade, despite the fact that the number of K-12 students and classroom teachers has decreased during the same period. Something which White says could have led to an $11,000 teacher pay raise.
“We took a look at the data, we did an analysis and we thought that the most important piece to lead with was this discussion about the percentage of funding that has gone inside the classroom and outside the classroom,” said White.
He adds that the data used came directly from the Mississippi Department of Education where anyone has access to the same data that they used to perform the audit.
“I plan on continuing to talk about what we learned from this analysis over the course of this year and then the next four years after that because if there is one hill that I am going to fight on that is controversial it is this hill right here,” said White. “This is the thing that I care about more than a lot of other things. Simply because I grew up in this system. I went to public schools myself. A lot of Mississippians send their kids to public schools and this is the issue that matters to them because it affects their kids and it affects what our state is going to be like in 20 years. This is the thing that decides whether or not we are going to overcome all these challenges that our state has faced for the past century. This is it right here. Whether or not we make the right decisions on public educations. So, if I’ve got to fight on a hill, I’d choose this hill to fight on.”