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Lawmakers send new K-12 funding formula to Gov. Reeves

A new K-12 education funding formula is heading to the desk of Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves.

In a surprise move on Friday, leaders in the House of Representatives worked with the Senate Education Committee to adopt their proposal to rid of the Mississippi Adequate Education Program (MAEP) and instead pass a formula that highly resembles the killed-off INSPIRE Act but includes more objectivity in how amounts are decided for K-12 operations.

The main difference, lawmakers argue, is that the House Bill 4130 – titled the Mississippi Student Funding Formula – will provide public schools with more money per pupil based on the number of students coming from low-income households, are English language learners, have special needs, and other factors intended to up the funding for districts with the largest needs. On the other hand, MAEP had been the subject of harsh criticism for decades over confusing language and alleged flaws in putting administrators over pupils. In turn, the program has only been fully funded three times since its inception in 1997. According to Speaker Jason White, the new plan is estimated to provide nearly $218 million more in K-12 funding than in previous years.

“MAEP is not going to be with us anymore come July 1,” White said on Friday. “They wanted us to introduce a new bill that does away with MAEP and basically writes the INSPIRE formula into a new bill.”

The Mississippi Student Funding Formula, on Thursday, flew through its originating chamber with Republicans, Democrats, and Independents unanimously agreeing. Following the Senate committee’s decision, the full floor took a vote on Saturday morning with only three dissenting votes.

“Now, we have an objective formula that allows for school districts to have adequate notice, stability, and predictability as to what their funding is going to be for the school year,” Senate Education Chairman Dennis DeBar, R-Leaksville, said.

Two of the three senators against the bill, Republican Angela Burks Hill and Democrat Hob Bryan, are usually on opposite ends of the spectrum but joined forces to try to convince their peers to vote against the new formula. The two

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