/Lawmakers Our superintendents want more information about school formula

Lawmakers Our superintendents want more information about school formula

Nonprofit Mississippi News While a new education model is sweeping through the House, legislators say school officials back home still have many questions about the legislation. However, the leaders of the process are still unsure. Tuesday morning, the House Appropriations Committee approved HB 957 by voice vote. Despite concerns from both sides about the lack of clarity regarding details, the House Appropriations Committee passed HB 957 on Tuesday morning. Rep. Scott DeLano (R-Biloxi) said that he is hearing concerns about the bill from superintendents and constituents within his district. DeLano said he was “pleased with the current situation” but it is still early. DeLano stated that heartburn can be caused by some things (in the bill )…). It’s going to take time to ensure that the bill is written the way we want it to. Rep. David Baria (D-Bay St. Louis), unsuccessfully proposed an amendment to the bill to change the effective date to July 2020. Baria stated that there are “too many unanswered queries about something as important as rewriting K-12 education formula.” “It is the largest portion of our budget each fiscal year and it is more than just a number because its impact on our future, the education for our children,” Baria stated. “And we keep micromanaging school like we know better than educators.” This uncertainty has been made worse by the inability of House Education Chairman Rep. Richard Bennett (R-Long Beach) to respond to questions from legislators and the media about the bill. While the bill states that it will be in effect when passed, Bennett stated during the meeting that the new formula would take effect in Fiscal Year 2019. Bennett met with House staffers several times on Tuesday to answer basic questions. The legislation would replace Mississippi’s current public school funding formula with one that assigns a cost base and gives weights to specific students. Bennett reiterated many of his points from earlier this week, mainly that Mississippi Adequate Education Program, which is currently used by the state, is “unrealistic” and the new one should be easier to comprehend. It’s simpler. Bennett stated that anyone can figure it and understand it. “I wouldn’t be here presenting this bill without believing it was good,” Bennett said. Rep. Karl Oliver (R-Winona), whose district encompasses Carroll County, Leflore County, and Winona schools attended the meeting. These three school districts will lose 3.6 to 5.8 per cent in funding due to the introduction of the new formula. Oliver stated that he hasn’t heard from the superintendents of those districts, and he is still undecided as to how he will vote for the bill on Wednesday. John Read, R-Gautier is the House Appropriations Chairman. He said that the most pressing concerns of the superintendents from those districts were the discussion about removing the 27 per cent rule. This allows state-funded property-rich districts to keep $120 millions in state funds that they otherwise would have to raise locally. Read represents Pascagoula Schools District, which would be the most affected by the elimination of the 27 per cent rule. However, HB 957 keeps the rule in its new formula, despite statements by EdBuild CEO Rebecca Sibilia, that the rule was “inequitable” or “bad for children.” Read stated that along with this industry, there are health problems, maintenance roads and heavy equipment. “It’s not all sugar coated.” Read added. It would have cost the district between $14 million and $15 million to eliminate the 27 percent rule. They will lose $1 million with this new formula. But, the superintendent and me have had a conversation, and he stated that he would study the matter. He also said that removing the rule immediately would be too costly for certain districts. Bennett stated, “I believe that’s something that you have to put the brakes on.” Bennett proposed an amendment to the committee that would change the date at which the formula can be reviewed. The bill now calls for multiple reviews, beginning in 2021. To support this important 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 Mississippians, we are listening to you. Click the button below to let us know what you think. Republish this Story