Over the past few weeks and I am sure into the legislative session next year a discussion is occurring in Mississippi about the Mississippi Adequate Education Program. This program (MAEP) is about how much funding schools should receive and what that funding should be directed towards. In recent days it has become apparent that Governor Barbour and what seems to be a majority of the Senate want to spend Educational funds one way and the House and a minority of Senate members want to “fully-fund” MAEP, spending money another way. For just a few of the many articles and/or stories on this debate see WLOX here. See a press release from the Governor here. See a statement from the Mississippi School Board Association (MSBA) here. For a Clarion-Ledger article see here.
Much of the descension seems to come from those feeling that Gov. Barbour is trying to pull a fast one as he agreed last year to fully fund education but he is choosing to spend a portion of the money on teacher pay raises and not include the money in MAEP which would, once again, under fund MAEP. By doing this more affluent, wealthy districts will receive a bigger share of the educational money pie than under the MAEP formula (thereby making the poorer districts receive a smaller piece of the pie under Barbour's plan) as the governors plan does not take into account the At-Risk Component and the wealthier districts often have more contributions within their districts that are also factored into the MAEP formula.
The purpose of this post is to try and bring a bit of understanding to our readers of what the MAEP actually is. The basic calculation is:
ADA (times) Base Student Cost (plus) At-risk Component (plus) ADA Allocation (plus) 8 % Guarantee (minus) Local Contribution = Adequate Education Allocation for a district.
For a breakdown of what these terms all mean see the MS Department of education website here. Additionally SB 2604 of the 2006 regular session altered some of the definitions of these terms, it can be found here.
For further information on what MAEP is I recommend reading the December 2002 PEER report found here.
For those unfamiliar with the PEER committee it is a group of 10-15 House and Senate members who investigate state programs (and almost always their expenses) to make sure agencies/programs/laws are being implemented as they were intended to when passed.