The future of the state of Mississippi’s public school funding hangs in the balance as a Mississippi Adequate Education Program lawsuit looms, a ballot initiative is being petitioned, and the contemplation of a change in the public education funding formula is reviewed by the Legislature. As we move into the dawn of an election year and the end of the four-year cycle of the current Legislature, I would like to make a few points regarding educational funding.
Before we begin the review of points, I hope we can all agree that everything from fuel to insurance and food costs are higher today than they were when the current Legislature took office. A greater chasm exists in costs since the inception of the MAEP funding formula in 1997. The formula included an inflation adjustment, but failure to consistently fully fund MAEP only magnifies the shortage most Mississippi school districts face each year. There are also demands on infrastructure, which did not remotely exist in the year of the creation of MAEP.
The challenge of higher accountability brings the challenge of better facilities and resources for our students and teachers. The new Common Core State Standards are designed to have an online testing component. Why is this beneficial? Online state testing would be an exercise in greater efficiency due to the elimination of cases of paper being sent back and forth between school districts and testing companies. The use of personnel to load, unload, pack, unpack, count and verify counts takes a disproportionate amount of time. This time could be saved through online testing.