Analysis: Watchdog group examines Mississippi school funding

Mississippi policymakers have known for decades that the state drags behind most others in public education spending.

Posted: Jun 7, 2021 9:03 AM

JACKSON, Miss. (AP) — Mississippi policymakers have known for decades that the state drags behind most others in public education spending.

A new report by a legislative watchdog group bears that out, with research showing that Mississippi spends less per pupil than each of its surrounding states — Louisiana, Arkansas, Tennessee and Alabama.

Mississippi's Joint Legislative Committee on Performance Evaluation and Expenditure Review, better known as PEER, released its findings June 1 in a report that is dated May 11.

The report uses information from state fiscal years that begin July 1 and end June 30 — so, FY 2019 ended on June 30, 2019.

“Based on enrollment for FY 2019, Mississippi funding per student from state, local and federal sources was $10,240, which was the lowest funding level per student when compared to contiguous states," PEER said.

“Louisiana’s total funding per enrolled student from state, local and federal sources for FY 2018, the most recent data available, was $12,507, which was the highest funding level per student when comparing Mississippi to contiguous states," it said.

Looking at only the state-funded portion of education spending — excluding local and federal money — Mississippi still lagged.

During FY 2019, Mississippi state government spent $5,135 per pupil for elementary and secondary schools. PEER said that was the lower than in the four neighboring states. Alabama had the highest per-pupil state spending in the group, at $6,484 during FY 2019.

During the Mississippi legislative session that ended in April, the House and Senate approved a teacher pay raise that will take effect during the year that begins July 1. Most teachers will receive $1,000, while those early in their careers will receive $1,100.

Mississippi has long had some of the lowest teacher salaries in the nation. According to the Southern Regional Education Board, the average teacher salary in the U.S. for 2018-19 was $62,304. For Mississippi, the average was $45,105.

Politicians running for office often make promises to put more money into education. Mississippi's current school funding formula was put into law in the late 1990s and has been fully funded only a couple of years. House leaders tried to replace the formula in 2018, but that effort fell flat in the Senate.

The PEER report examined five years of Mississippi K-12 funding. It said that from FY 2016 to FY 2020, public school districts received about $23.8 billion from state, local and federal sources.

PEER said that about 51% of the money was from the state, 35% was from local sources and 14% was from federal sources. In terms of dollars, that was about $12.2 billion from the state, $8.3 billion from local sources and $3.4 billion from federal sources.

The committee also said that from FY 2016 through FY 2020, not adjusting for inflation, state funding increased about $103 million, local funding increased about $218 million and federal funds decreased about $22 million.

“When considering funding from sources over several years, it is important to take inflation into consideration," PEER said. “For example, school districts need $107 in revenue in FY 2020 to have the same purchasing power as $100 in revenue in FY 2016.”

Adjusting for inflation, state spending in Mississippi decreased about $65 million, local spending increased about $110 million and federal spending decreased about $70 million during the five years.

PEER also broke down how much Mississippi spent for each student from FY 2016 to FY 2020.

Before adjusting for inflation, per-pupil state spending increased $446, local spending increased $636 and federal support increased $9. That's a total increase of $1,091 during the five years.

After adjusting for inflation, per-pupil state spending increased $75, local spending increased $398 and federal spending decreased $97. That translated into an inflation-adjusted increase of $376.

The Mississippi budget has already been set for education and other services for FY 2022, which begins July 1. Legislators will use information from the PEER report as they start the long process of planning budgets for FY 2023 and beyond.

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 512632

Reported Deaths: 10262
CountyCasesDeaths
Harrison34853555
DeSoto33162432
Hinds32556641
Jackson24830389
Rankin22442402
Lee16238242
Madison14874283
Jones14086247
Forrest13741259
Lauderdale12249324
Lowndes11286193
Lamar10644140
Pearl River9707244
Lafayette8827143
Hancock7835132
Washington7550169
Oktibbeha7204138
Monroe6989179
Pontotoc6970109
Warren6849178
Panola6746134
Neshoba6726210
Marshall6653141
Bolivar6440151
Union633897
Pike5924156
Alcorn5862107
Lincoln5525136
George510180
Prentiss500884
Tippah490282
Itawamba4829107
Scott477499
Adams4766125
Tate4748116
Leflore4723144
Copiah455895
Yazoo455591
Simpson4543117
Wayne442772
Covington432895
Sunflower4299106
Marion4265112
Coahoma4227109
Leake413790
Newton395581
Tishomingo381793
Grenada3775109
Stone365666
Jasper340166
Attala337790
Winston317792
Chickasaw313367
Clay311878
Clarke301195
Calhoun284449
Holmes271289
Smith268952
Yalobusha243747
Tallahatchie231453
Greene224749
Walthall221366
Lawrence217840
Perry213356
Amite209557
Webster205148
Noxubee188642
Montgomery181557
Carroll174441
Jefferson Davis173643
Tunica163239
Benton152639
Kemper144941
Choctaw136527
Claiborne134238
Humphreys131139
Franklin124929
Quitman107528
Wilkinson105939
Jefferson96834
Sharkey65121
Issaquena1957
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 844594

Reported Deaths: 16115
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson1160612006
Mobile741651379
Madison53255732
Shelby38313368
Baldwin38061589
Tuscaloosa35996641
Montgomery34473781
Lee25541263
Calhoun22582518
Morgan22441406
Etowah20009517
Marshall18771316
Houston17723425
St. Clair16863358
Limestone16123218
Cullman16032303
Elmore15902294
Lauderdale14945306
Talladega14186299
DeKalb12957269
Walker12011380
Blount10700192
Autauga10512157
Jackson10151194
Coffee9412192
Colbert9325208
Dale9013191
Tallapoosa7248201
Russell707465
Chilton7015170
Escambia6951143
Covington6926195
Franklin6337108
Chambers5778142
Marion5400130
Dallas5283209
Pike5114109
Clarke484986
Lawrence4826129
Winston4777110
Geneva4640136
Bibb434094
Barbour369180
Butler3433100
Marengo342393
Monroe336666
Randolph334067
Pickens333188
Fayette329885
Henry320566
Hale317989
Cherokee316963
Crenshaw260477
Washington256952
Cleburne254360
Lamar251253
Clay250869
Macon244764
Conecuh192762
Coosa184647
Lowndes178168
Wilcox177438
Bullock152545
Perry141840
Sumter139041
Greene130245
Choctaw93228
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