Parents seek ballot initiative to fully fund public education
Wednesday, June 18, 2014 1:00 AM
Parents in area schools are requesting voter's signatures for a ballot initiative to fully fund public education.
With the help of Better Schools, Better Jobs, Initiative Measure 42 is aiming to fully fund the Mississippi Adequate Education Program.
Becky Glover, a parent coach for the organization, told parents at a training session last Thursday for this to be placed on the November 2015 ballot a total of 107,000 signatures must be on the petition.
"You are not asking people to vote for it. You are asking them to put it on the ballot," she said.
Despite the 107,000 goal, Glover said they want to get 200,000 signatures to have a "cushion."
MAEP is a formula that was passed by the state legislature in 1997 that determines how much funding each school district receives. It only funds instruction materials, teachers' salaries and operating and maintenance expenses of current facilities.
In the past 17 years, the 2007 and 2008 fiscal years have been the only years when MAEP was fully-funded.
Glover said the reason for this was because 2007 was an election year and in 2008 the state received a stimulus package.
For the upcoming 2015 fiscal year, she said Philadelphia Public Schools will be underfunded by $575,562 and Neshoba County Schools by nearly $1.9 million.
Since 2008, Philadelphia schools have lost $3.5 million, and Neshoba schools have lost $10.5 million.
"This initiative will not raise taxes or create new taxes," Glover said. "The initiative proposes that at least 25 percent of new growth of general fund revenue would go into MAEP over a period of years until it is fully funded."
Jason Gentry, principal at Philadelphia High School, said a student's environment affects their learning, referring to Germantown High School's campus in Gluckstadt "as a college campus."
"When you put kids in that kind of environment, that elicits a pride and elicits a strive to achieve and succeed," he said.
One parent, Chiquita Jones, said, "If we can get more resources instead of less resources, we are looking for our scores to go higher."
Then, Philadelphia Interim Superintendent Robert Turnage said by supporting this initiative "we could help ourselves."
"If they [the state] don't send it [funding], we only have one other place to get it, and that's the local mills," he said citing that if MAEP was fully funded, Philadelphia schools would "not require 55 mills like it does now."
"We know that more funding alone, doesn't solve all problems," Glover said, "but the fact is that when schools that educate over 90 percent of our children are as underfunded as this for bare necessities it takes to even have a school, much less provide an adequate education, then the task of educating all children well and equitably is an even greater challenge."
Parents for Public Schools is a non-profit organization of community-based chapters working with public school parents and other supporters to improve and strengthen local public schools.
For more information, contact Becky Glover at (601) 207-2209 or email@example.com.