REFER TO EDITORIAL
Education moves closer to full funding
– The Senate passes its own version of the K-12 funding proposal.
By Bobby Harrison
Daily Journal Jackson Bureau
JACKSON – For the first time since 2003, the Mississippi Adequate Education Program has been fully funded by both chambers of the state Legislature, but in different versions.
Without a dissenting vote, the 52-member Senate agreed Tuesday to fully fund the program, which provides the state’s share of the basics of operating local school districts.
Earlier this session, the House approved similar legislation.
However, with two different versions for funding, two things could happen: The House could accept the Senate’s changes and the bill would go to Gov. Haley Barbour. Or, if the House didn’t accept the Senate changes, it could invite negotiations by key members to work out the differences.
In the second scenario, each chamber would have to agree to the compromise before it could go to the governor.
While he said he has not studied the Senate changes, House Speaker Billy McCoy, D-Rienzi, said he expects the House to opt for negotiations.
Both measures fully fund the Adequate Education formula that provides each school district a specific amount per student, based on the wealth of the district. Both funding measures provide more than $2.2 billion for public education.
The key differences:
– The House proposal provides $13 million more for at-risk students.
Various studies have concluded that Mississippi’s funding on at-risk students is far below the national average and far below the amount needed to adequately educate many students from poor backgrounds, said House Education Committee Chairman Cecil Brown, D-Jackson.
– The Senate version provides $4 million more for specific programs, such as dyslexia screening.
Sen. Alan Nunnelee, R-Tupelo, said he was pleased to see the full funding proposal pass, noting it will mean “a tremendous increase” in funds for schools in his district. “I hope this issue is put to rest for years to come,” he added.
Contact Daily Journal Jackson Bureau reporter Bobby Harrison at (601) 353-3119 or BHarri9015@aol.com.