The Mississippi State Auditor’s office released the FY 2019 preliminary estimate calculation of the Mississippi Adequate Education Program (MAEP).
The Mississippi Department of Education is required by law to provide a preliminary estimate for school funding each year.
“The preliminary estimate for school funding provided to the Mississippi State Board of Education in July, as required by state law, was based on data from the 2016 fiscal year,” said Dr. Carey Wright, State Superintendent of Education. “As stated at the Board meeting, the numbers are expected to change. The actual data needed to produce the final funding recommendation is required to come from the 2017 fiscal year, which will be available in October. The final recommendation will come to the State Board in December. When the final MAEP calculations are done, an independent audit firm verifies the accuracy of the calculations.”
However, State Auditor Stacey Pickering said that the actual formula is creating problems.
“It could be a complex formula but you need good measurable data that goes in there to make sure that we are funding education, giving children the opportunity to succeed, giving the next generation the opportunity to improve and lead Mississippi forward,” said Pickering. “Right now we can’t say that the formula does that.”
Pickering said that the formula has not been doing its job for the past ten years or so.
“Every taxpayer ought to be able to look at that formula, it ought to be simplified and say yes, we know that we are spending this much money and this is where it’s going and this is what it’s for, said Pickering. “When we get to that point I think that we will all have a lot more confidence with what we are doing, and are we doing right by the children of Mississippi.”
However, Pickering said that it is not all about the money.
“It’s not about more or less funding,” said Pickering. “It’s about, is this measurable, is it factual, can we all agree on the data and the numbers that go into it? Right now, as the auditor of Mississippi, those numbers can’t be validated and we need a better transparency when it comes to the numbers that actually go into the formula.”