Special session will not include school funding

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A revamp of the state’s school funding will not be on the agenda of the special Legislative session this June, officials clarified Thursday.

“It (education funding) will not be part of the special session,” said Nathan Wells, chief of staff for Speaker of the House Philip Gunn.

Gunn indicated in February a special session to work out details of a new formula was likely. However, the special session called by Gov. Phil Bryant for June 5 will be reserved for other issues.

A request for comment regarding plans for a new formula from Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves’ office was not immediately returned late Thursday afternoon.

The purpose of the special session is to pass budgets for the Mississippi Department of Transportation, the Attorney General’s office and state aid roads. The Legislature failed to do so during the regular session following a dispute between the House of Representatives and Senate over paying for an infrastructure improvement plan.

During the regular session earlier this year, legislators passed bills bringing forward code sections of the Mississippi Adequate Education Program (MAEP), the state’s current law dictating how much schools receive each year. However, no specific legislation to replace the MAEP was ever proposed or debated.

The New Jersey-based nonprofit EdBuild, which the Legislature hired last fall to study school funding and bring forward recommendations for a new formula, did present a report with recommendations in January.

The 79-page report included recommendations regarding weighted per-student funding, in addition to asking the Legislature to consider whether to require local communities to contribute more to schools.

Gabriel Austin, Mississippi Today

Rebecca Sibilia, EdBuild

“We’re sorry to see that the Legislature didn’t take up school funding reform in this legislative session but EdBuild remains as always committed to helping folks in Mississippi move to a fairer and more transparent way of funding schools,” EdBuild Chief Executive Officer Rebecca Sibilia told Mississippi Today.

  • Danny Lampley

    Then there is no reason now why a transparent public discussion cannot be held. So, how about it, Legislature? Take this opportunity for transparency and public input and get it right — or leave it alone.