School budgets for 2016-17.
Two days before the state legislature adjourned in April, there was still no K-12 budget for the coming year. Five days later, Governor Bryant announced that cuts would be made to the current year’s budget as well as to the upcoming budget. (Some teachers who budgeted their classroom funds for events in April and May of 2016 found their accounts already zeroed out when they requested supplies for end-of-year projects.) The reason for these cuts is two-fold: 1. State revenue is down, and 2. The Governor and the legislature continue to forgive corporate taxes to encourage more businesses to move to the state.
The Parents’ Campaign http://www.msparentscampaign.org/ chronicles every legislative action and calls upon its members to contact legislators in the interest of public schools. Its pages include the amount of cuts to every school district for the upcoming year: http://www.tpcref.org/wp-content/uploads/PER-DIST-MAEP-UNDER-FUNDING_FY09-FY17_CONSOLIDATED.pdf The amount required by law (MAEP) for all school districts is $2,433,492,101, but instead, the school district combined allocation for the upcoming year totals $2, 261,438,129, which represents a shortfall $172,053,972.
The Parents’ Campaign site also presents records of every vote of every legislator, but to date, there seems to be too little pressure for votes that would support public schools (The Parents Campaign).
In March, after much discussion and opposition, both houses of the Legislature passed legislation to expand Charter Schools, not only in failing districts, but also in well-performing districts. Under this legislation, per-pupil funding follows the student, moving state funding to the private charter school. Teachers in these charter schools have 3 years to complete their certification to teach. State Senator Hob Bryan D-Amory argued against the legislation: “Effectively what you are doing is telling people of Tupelo and every other community you are prohibited from taxing yourselves for the purpose of operating public schools here in your town” (Clarion Ledger, March 1, 2016).