Fully Funding Education: State Auditor Says MAEP Formula Difficult to Understand

JACKSON, Miss.–Fully funding education, that would seem like a no-brainer, right? In Mississippi most school superintendents see that as fully funding the Miss. Adequate Education Program. State Auditor Stacey Pickering said this week that his office, once again, cannot “verify this formula”.

Pickering said he believes the formula by which school districts get money from the state is flawed.

“The public gets in this outcry…and parents say, can’t we fully fund it, but we really don’t know what we’re arguing over,” he said.

“The first number that goes into is not accurate. It’s worth $1.9 billion, and we’re not even sure it’s an accurate number because the school districts aren’t following the law when it comes to average daily attendance.”

Average daily attendance is just one component of the formula, according to the state website. Other factors that go into determining how much each district needs to operate include the cost of employing teachers and administrators, the local contribution that comes from your property taxes, and add-on programs like vocational education, transportation, special education, gifted and alternative.

LINK to the state website: http://www.mde.k12.ms.us/docs/school-financial-services-library/maep_explanation_2010C2281CA29877.pdf?sfvrsn=2

“Before a couple of years ago there was no law that defined what makes up an average daily attendance. We had some districts that required kids to stay until noon, other districts, you show up, check in and they counted like you were there all day.”

Pickering said that whether or not schools get more money each year is a legislative matter, but his office is required to determine whether the formula is valid.

He also said that he believes his office will end up being involved in some of the issues surrounding the lawsuit being led by former governor Ronnie Musgrove, where around 20 school districts are suing the state, claiming education has been underfunded.