Educators wonder what’s next after initiative’s defeat

Instead, district administrators are again playing a familiar waiting game — looking to the state Legislature and hoping lawmakers choose to fully fund public education during the upcoming session, which kicks off in January. The best most superintendents hope for is full funding of the Mississippi Adequate Education Program (MAEP), the funding formula that became law in 1997 but has only been followed twice in 18 years. If Initiative 42 had passed, lawmakers would have been required by the constitution to follow the formula.

The MAEP law itself may even be on the chopping block if some Mississippi Republican leaders have their way. The day after Initiative 42’s defeat, Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves and House Speaker Philip Gunn both said they wanted to make changes to the funding formula.

Reeves said he wants to fund schools based on average per-student expenditures of districts that currently have a B or higher rating on the state’s accountability model. The model assigns schools student-like grades of A, B, C, D or F, based on a mix of indicators including test scores, attendance and graduation rates. And, like students with low grades, districts rated a D or F are considered unsuccessful. Schools that repeatedly fail can be taken over by the state.