Keeping with the status quo, Gov. Phil Bryant has shorted public education in his 2016 budget recommendation. Below is a press release from Better Schools Better Jobs.
JACKSON – Supporters of a citizens' initiative to require full state funding for K-12 education insist Gov. Phil Bryant's 2016 budget proposal does little to resolve chronic under-funding, saying it's a good reason Mississippi voters should support their cause.
“Gov. Bryant's budget once again shortchanges Mississippi's school children,” said Patsy R. Brumfield, communications director for Better Schools, Better Jobs, which gathered nearly 200,000 signatures earlier this year to support a constitutional amendment to require the state to fully fund its part of K-12 schools.
Monday, Bryant announced his latest budget plan, which he said increases public school funding by more than $52 million.
Initiative advocates said Tuesday the increase does not improve basic K-12 funding, rather chiefly funds the second year of a teacher pay raise, which isn't part of the basic funding formula passed by the Legislature in 1997 and fully funded only twice.
“If anyone were waiting for a reason to support the Better Schools, Better Jobs Initiative that will guarantee funding for our students, Gov. Bryant just gave them one,” Brumfield added.
Dr. Ray Morgigno, superintendent of Pearl Public School District near Jackson, was not impressed with Bryant's proposal.
“I am disappointed that this budget really doesn’t do much to address the underfunding we have been facing,” he said.
The governor's plan still leaves K-12 school funding about $260 million short of the standard recognized by the Legislature as “adequate.”
“Fully funding MAEP would help districts deal with the increase in basic costs along with all of the mandates that are put on districts each year,” Morgigno said. “Unfortunately, the governor's proposal shows no truly improved commitment to education in our state.”
He said Bryant's budget proposal does nothing to help shore up the underfunding for mandates such as more technology in the classroom and curriculum needs to prepare for the continually increasing testing requirements, among others.
“The other issue that we are not addressing are the increases to keep up aging facilities, air conditioners, heaters, buses and rising textbook costs,” the Pearl school leader said. “Energy costs to heat and cool buildings continue to climb each year.”
The constitutional amendment initiative goes to the Legislature, when it convenes in January.