The measure would have replaced the MAEP school funding formula, but also would have meant a major cut to Baldwyn Schools’ budget.
Efforts to replace the Mississippi Adequate Education Program have effectively ended this legislative session as the Mississippi Senate voted last week to send the bill back to committee. The move essentially kills it for this session.
Sen. Chad McMahan, R-Guntown, said after last week’s vote that he felt he had voted the will of the people of the district when he was one of a handful of Republican senators to vote to recommit the measure.
“I called on a cross-section of people and had multiple conferences and I could not find a single person in my district who asked me to vote for it, so I voted the will of my district,” McMahan said. “I talked to all four superintendents in my district and none of them asked me to vote for this measure. I have had hundreds of phone calls thanking me for not voting it.”
A number of issues apparently led to the Senate voting to send the bill back to committee, including the lack of consideration for inflation in the bill, which could have meant reductions in school funding the next few years versus what they would have received under MAEP. McMahan said he had other issues with the legislation.
“What I had some reservations about was the CTE (Career Trainng Education) money,” McMahan said. “It wasn’t a line item; it was included in the $4,800 (base per-student funding called for in the plan). I wasn’t satisfied that it wasn’t in there. Especially because it was going to hurt our Baldwyn School system. In 2015 they had the highest reading scores and then in 2017 they were named a District of Innovation. And now you’re going to turn around and take away resources from them?”
Rep. Jerry Turner, R-Baldwyn, said the CTE funding issue had become a significant problem for him as well.
“The CTE funds that were outside the formula when it left the House were dumped into the basic formula (in the Senate version), without any additional credit or weight, and this was very troubling to me,” Turner said. “This would have been devastating to our new Career Technical mission in Baldwyn, and would have hindered my continued support.”
“There wasn’t any money in there for inflation, either,” McMahan said. “I would have liked to see at least a 1 percent per year increase.”
McMahan said another thing the legislation didn’t hake into consideration was the increases for retirement funding in coming years, which would have placed the burden upon local school districts to come up with those contributions from existing funding.
McMahan said he first saw the bill out of committee about a week before the vote, and he had attended several education committee meetings, including a meeting with representatives of EdBuild, the organization that wrote the recommendations upon which the bill was based. However, he didn’t get to see the supplements to the bill until just days before the vote.
McMahan said he would like to see efforts made this summer to reach out to various education leaders throughout the state to work together to craft better legislation, and he does support a simpler education funding method.
“We’ve recommitted this bill,” McMahan said. “I hope there is an opportunity to bring in superintendents and finance leaders and see what we can do to strengthen the bill. I think we need to have some committee meetings.”