Things to know about Mississippi school fund gap
Dec. 13, 2014
DURANT, Miss. (AP) — Five things to know about Mississippi's public school funding struggles:
LAWMAKERS AREN'T FUNDING EDUCATION AT THE LEVEL REQUIRED BY STATE LAW
— Legislators have spent $1.5 billion less on education since 2008 than what's mandated. Critics say instead of fully funding education as state revenue recovered from the recession, lawmakers gave large tax breaks to businesses and chose to fill the state's savings accounts.
— WHAT IS HAPPENING BECAUSE OF THE FUNDING SHORTFALL
The number of teachers shrank by 6 percent — about 2,000 teachers — from 2008 to 2013. Teaching assistants, once mandatory through third grade, have become increasingly rare.
— HOW SCHOOLS MADE DO WHEN THEY DIDN'T GET ADEQUATE FUNDING
About 80 percent of Mississippi's 146 school districts raised property taxes since 2008, the last time lawmakers provided full funding under the state formula, according to an Associated Press review.
— WHAT ELSE IS HAPPENING IN THE SCHOOLS
In Durant, one of Mississippi's smallest districts, administrators chose to retain as many teaching slots as possible by forgoing new books. There's a leaky roof and crumbling ceiling tiles, no marching band and no advanced placement classes.
— SCHOOLS ARE HIRING ROOKIE TEACHERS BECAUSE THEY ARE CHEAPER
"Our first choice is to select those people with less experience, particularly people that are right out of college," said Durant Superintendent Louise Sanders-Tate. "I hire those teachers with zero years because it's going to help my bottom line."