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Gov. Reeves Endorses INSPIRE Act’s School Funding Overhaul: ‘Fund Students, Not Systems’

The INSPIRE Act, an effort to overhaul Mississippi’s education funding formula, has earned the support of Gov. Tate Reeves. The Republican governor said the state “must fund students, not systems.”

“And we must keep tax dollars where they are most impactful—in the classroom,” he said in a statement on Monday, March 25. “That means focusing on students and teachers—not administrators and the status quo. I’m glad to see that the Mississippi House passed the INSPIRE Act.

The Mississippi House passed the INSPIRE Act with a bipartisan 95-13 majority on March 6 (14 members voted present). The legislation’s authors say the goal is to promote equity in student funding. It includes a provision that attaches additional funding weights to certain student populations, including those who are low-income, English-language learners, special-education students and students in career-technical programs.

The INSPIRE Act includes a minimum base student funding formula of $6,650 per student that the Legislature would set or readjust annually. That’s lower than the nearly $7,500 per student that MAEP’s formula would require if the Legislature fully funde it. But the INSPIRE Act’s funding weights would require the State to allocate an additional 10% for students in districts with high poverty rates; 20% for English-language learners; 30% for students who are low income; and 60% for each student with a learning disability. MAEP has no such weighting components for students who may require more funds.

“We’ve got a program and a formula in front of you today that puts as much emphasis on equity for our school districts as anything you’ve ever seen,” Rep. Rob Roberson, a Starkville Republican and the bill’s principal author, told the House floor on March 6.

“We’re giving a weight to that district that’s in poverty, for kids that are in special needs (programs) … so that children that need additional help will have the funding to back that help up,” he added. “That’s not something we’ve done before. The bottom line is, this does that.”

The INSPIRE Act would replace the current formula, the Mississippi Adequate Education Program. Though adopted in 1997, the State has only fully

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