Mississippi school leader focuses on preschool, teacher help

State schools Superintendent Carey Wright focused her pitch to lawmakers Monday on more money for state-funded preschool and more ways to improve teaching and school leadership, barely glancing over the state's underfunded school formula.

Posted: Sep 17, 2018 4:39 PM

JACKSON, Miss. (AP) — State schools Superintendent Carey Wright focused her pitch to lawmakers Monday on more money for state-funded preschool and more ways to improve teaching and school leadership, barely glancing over the state's underfunded school formula.

Wright asked lawmakers to provide more money for public-private preschool networks, coaches to improve reading instruction, a new statewide computer data system and efforts to help superintendents and principals. Those various proposed increases would cost about $11.5 million. She said that improving test scores and graduation rates show lawmakers are getting a good return on previous spending and should keep investing.

"It's not just enough to ask for money," Wright said. "The taxpayers need to know their money is well-invested."

She only briefly mentioned the cost to fully-fund Mississippi's K-12 funding formula, which would require a projected additional $250 million on top of the $2.2 billion the state is spending this year. Wright is required by law to ask for full funding, but the state Supreme Court has ruled lawmakers aren't required to follow a law demanding they appropriate the full amount. Lawmakers considered scrapping the formula last year and replacing it with a different one that didn't have such a funding guarantee, but ultimately abandoned the effort. Lawmakers have said they're unlikely to revisit the issue in an election year, but could consider it again in the future.

More popular might be Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves call for a teacher pay increase, but it too was not discussed. Such a pay increase could cost more than $100 million when fully phased in, depending on the salary and benefit increases that lawmakers decide on.

Wright also defended her decision to abandon a $5.5 million federally-funded contract to create a new computer system to track special education plans for students. She said other states were experiencing similar problems making systems work that are designed by the same vendor. She said Mississippi hopes to use remaining money to find a workable solution, and said she doesn't now anticipate having to repay $840,000 in federal money with state dollars.

Leaders from Mississippi's public universities and community colleges didn't appear before lawmakers, as they cut down hearings to only one day. The state's 15 community colleges are asking for an additional $83 million, which would finance pay increases, technical programs and programs to aid high school dropouts and pay for other high school students to take community college classes. Mississippi's eight public universities are asking for an additional $127 million, including another $10 million for student financial aid and another $42 million to pay operating expenses at the University of Mississippi Medical Center.

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 314710

Reported Deaths: 7254
CountyCasesDeaths
DeSoto21646260
Hinds20369416
Harrison17949309
Rankin13643278
Jackson13450246
Madison10113217
Lee9986174
Jones8384163
Forrest7689152
Lauderdale7198240
Lowndes6403148
Lamar623686
Lafayette6203119
Washington5341134
Bolivar4802132
Oktibbeha462998
Panola4596107
Pearl River4519146
Marshall4450103
Warren4393121
Pontotoc420872
Monroe4115133
Union411176
Neshoba4031176
Lincoln3969110
Hancock379586
Leflore3498125
Sunflower336290
Tate334784
Pike3327105
Scott316274
Alcorn313368
Yazoo311770
Itawamba300577
Copiah297465
Coahoma295579
Simpson295388
Tippah288768
Adams286982
Prentiss280060
Marion269380
Leake268473
Wayne262841
Grenada261587
Covington259881
George248148
Newton246862
Winston227581
Tishomingo227067
Jasper221148
Attala214473
Chickasaw208057
Holmes189174
Clay185554
Stone182833
Tallahatchie178941
Clarke178080
Calhoun170932
Yalobusha164638
Smith162534
Walthall134245
Greene130633
Lawrence128724
Montgomery127142
Noxubee126734
Perry126338
Amite123142
Carroll121829
Webster114532
Jefferson Davis107133
Tunica105726
Claiborne102430
Benton100025
Humphreys96733
Kemper95828
Franklin83923
Quitman81116
Choctaw76418
Wilkinson67531
Jefferson65728
Sharkey50217
Issaquena1686
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 539829

Reported Deaths: 11038
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson798271529
Mobile41261809
Madison35132506
Tuscaloosa25915455
Shelby25294249
Montgomery24705593
Baldwin21392310
Lee15987172
Calhoun14569319
Morgan14422280
Etowah13918353
Marshall12275225
Houston10641282
Elmore10147206
Limestone10065151
St. Clair9946245
Cullman9761194
Lauderdale9457243
DeKalb8865188
Talladega8339176
Walker7260278
Autauga7001108
Jackson6836112
Blount6771139
Colbert6320135
Coffee5578118
Dale4876113
Russell445138
Chilton4369113
Franklin426282
Covington4138118
Tallapoosa4044153
Escambia394777
Chambers3590123
Dallas3568153
Clarke351461
Marion3137101
Pike311977
Lawrence302698
Winston275773
Bibb264564
Geneva254078
Marengo249665
Pickens234862
Barbour232056
Hale223978
Butler219069
Fayette212662
Henry189643
Cherokee184645
Randolph182442
Monroe178141
Washington167739
Macon161150
Clay157157
Crenshaw153557
Cleburne149641
Lamar143236
Lowndes140553
Wilcox127430
Bullock123242
Conecuh110829
Coosa109228
Perry107826
Sumter104932
Greene92634
Choctaw61024
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High pressure will continue to dominate our weather forecast for the end of the weekend. We will see our area filled with plenty of sunshine but clouds will be on the increase into the evening hours. There will be some changes for the start work week in our weather forecast as low pressure brings back some chances for showers and thunderstorms.
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