/Gunn files school funding rewrite bill

Gunn files school funding rewrite bill

Nonprofit Mississippi News Speaker Philip Gunn (R-Clinton) filed a school funding reform bill late Thursday. This follows more than a decade of discussions about the overhaul of the Mississippi Adequate Education Program. It is the formula that determines school funding. The bill contains much of what Rebecca Sibilia, a CEO of EdBuild in New Jersey, described to House Democratic Caucus on Tuesday. It also retains a provision that allows property owners to keep $120 millions they would otherwise have to raise in local taxes. Gunn’s formula incorporates some of the EdBuild recommendations. However, additional funding for kindergarten to third grade students is missing. Also, the removal of the benefit for property-wealthy areas such as Madison, Rankin, and Lowndes is not being considered. Sibilia said Tuesday that the formula has a base cost of $4,800 for each kindergartner to 12th grader. Weights or additional money can be added depending on the students’ individual characteristics. This includes special education diagnosis, low income status, gifted students, and even age. High schoolers receive a weight of 1.3, or $6,240. Students receiving special education services can have weights ranging from 60 percent ($7 680) to 170% ($8,160), depending on their diagnosis. Students in rural or “sparse” districts will also receive an additional 10% from the state. The enrollment numbers will determine how much money a district receives, and the total students within the district. This is in contrast to the current formula. Both chambers must vote on the bill after it has been passed through committee. The new formula, known as the Mississippi Uniform Per Student Funding Formula Act of 2018, if passed would take effect in the next school-year. The bill states that any increases or decreases in funding experienced by a school district as a result would be phased over seven years. The bill can be viewed here. To support this work, you can make a regular donation to us today as part of the Spring Member Drive. Our reporters give a human face to policy’s impact on everyday Mississippians by listening more closely and understanding their communities. To ensure that our work is aligned with the priorities and needs of all Mississippians, we are listening to you. Click the button below to let us know what you think.