In a letter last week to Republican Gov. Phil Bryant and legislative leaders, Pickering recommended that the Legislature hire an outside entity to conduct a district-by-district needs assessment “to truly understand each district’s requirements to provide classroom resources that offer children an exemplary education.”
Pickering said he wants to know if the current formula provides enough money to the districts with the biggest challenges. The formula provides a small funding bump for every student receiving free and reduced-price lunches. Pickering doesn’t like that measure, because the federal government now allows districts with high poverty rates provide free lunches to all students. That means some districts get additional state aid.
Consultants hired by the Legislature proposed substituting a Census Bureau measure of poverty, which Pickering said would be one option.