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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: 468498

Reported Deaths: 9100
CountyCasesDeaths
Harrison31907468
Hinds30552569
DeSoto29532342
Jackson22868335
Rankin21016355
Lee14393214
Madison13961263
Jones13053215
Forrest12879231
Lauderdale11244292
Lowndes10148171
Lamar9972122
Pearl River8569208
Lafayette8008136
Hancock7110107
Oktibbeha6764117
Washington6756146
Neshoba6350200
Monroe6304156
Warren6267159
Panola6036122
Pontotoc599292
Bolivar5960143
Marshall5917115
Union558885
Pike5424133
Lincoln5192127
Alcorn509388
George454766
Scott447392
Leflore4377138
Tippah431780
Itawamba429192
Prentiss429074
Copiah423883
Simpson4238108
Wayne419663
Tate418999
Adams4174109
Yazoo411486
Sunflower4057104
Covington404891
Marion399699
Leake389784
Coahoma385996
Newton360273
Grenada3489100
Stone342657
Tishomingo320987
Attala318285
Jasper308261
Winston298191
Clay282672
Chickasaw277464
Clarke271784
Holmes257685
Calhoun256939
Smith241546
Yalobusha215447
Tallahatchie213849
Walthall203457
Lawrence202431
Greene202045
Perry195053
Amite191251
Webster191141
Noxubee173437
Montgomery168652
Jefferson Davis164041
Carroll158936
Tunica146533
Benton137531
Kemper136538
Claiborne124134
Choctaw123824
Humphreys122036
Franklin114127
Quitman100925
Wilkinson98335
Jefferson85832
Sharkey61620
Issaquena1916
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 757893

Reported Deaths: 12784
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson1082301712
Mobile694251158
Madison47738562
Baldwin35347420
Shelby34758281
Tuscaloosa32576495
Montgomery32249645
Lee21576200
Calhoun19621363
Morgan19061307
Etowah18363413
Marshall17028252
Houston15881337
St. Clair14724270
Limestone13908178
Elmore13812239
Cullman13756228
Lauderdale12909263
Talladega12124200
DeKalb11705220
Walker10047303
Autauga9371119
Blount9272146
Jackson8970132
Coffee8550150
Colbert8229160
Dale8162142
Escambia632298
Tallapoosa6255165
Covington6214153
Chilton6152128
Russell586753
Franklin558292
Chambers5155127
Dallas4569173
Marion4490114
Clarke447070
Pike439188
Geneva415999
Lawrence4002101
Winston399982
Bibb388975
Barbour334667
Marengo317778
Monroe306844
Butler305878
Pickens296166
Henry288550
Randolph288255
Hale282981
Cherokee275649
Fayette268569
Washington241844
Crenshaw226962
Clay219260
Macon211154
Cleburne205746
Lamar184638
Conecuh173337
Lowndes167856
Coosa160031
Wilcox153033
Bullock145642
Perry132430
Sumter122635
Greene117941
Choctaw71925
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