This morning, the Auditor’s office delivered the attached letter to members of the state legislature and other elected officials regarding the MAEP FY 2014 final estimate and related recommendations.
By law, each year the Office of the State Auditor is required to review and verify the accuracy of the MAEP estimate that is submitted by the MS Department of Education to the legislature. Since taking office in 2008, Auditor Pickering has been carefully reviewing the formula and identifying data and calculation problems and errors. In 2008 he actually rescinded the original letter based the discovery of bad data sent to his staff during the review.
In each subsequent year, he has continued to conduct detailed reviews and provide results to the MS Department of Education as well as the legislature. While the numbers that were provided do yield the total amount of the estimate being submitted, the numbers may not be correct. The bulk of the MAEP funds ($1.9 billion) are based on non-standardized Average Daily Attendance Data (ADA) from schools. Other factors, such as at-risk data, transportation funding, etc. have little or no oversight, and therefore no reliability. Because improvements to the accountability and accuracy of the underlying data have not been made, Auditor Pickering believes he has no choice but to refuse to certify the calculation based on the lack of reliability and validity of that data.
In 2006, the legislature changed the full recalculation of the MAEP formula from each year to every four years. In intervening years, formula is increased based on inflation data. The total final estimate for the FY 2014 MAEP proposed by the MDE is $2,348,328,511, which includes a base cost of $1,895,229,008; Add on program costs of $440,436,709; and miscellaneous “Other Programs” costs of $12,662,794.
Office Of The State Auditor