The last chore of the Mississippi Legislature before it leaves Jackson at session’s end is putting together a budget.
This budget is composed of appropriations bills for each agency. One of the biggest line items in the general fund budget is K-12 education and a compromise will be needed between the House and Senate before it can become law.
House Bill 1387 will appropriate more than $2.2 billion for K-12 education. The bill has been amended in the Senate with an additional $51 million in spending on education programs and a reverse repealer (a legislative tactic that prevents a bill from being signed into the law because it requires further work).
Last year, those same programs received $2.238 billion.
Lawmakers also add earmarks in the K-12 appropriation for special projects, some supported by the Mississippi Department of Education and some that are not wanted. Among some of the more than $9 million in line items in the education appropriation include:
- $1.5 million for Teach for America, same as last year.
- $900,000 for detention centers, which was the same amount as appropriated last year and less than the $1.5 million the MDE requested.
- $800,000 for Amplify Data Coaching, which was the same amount as the year before.
- $725,000 for Algebra Nation, which marks no change from the prior year.
- $700,000 for Jobs for MS Graduates Inc., which was the same as the year before.
Three private special education schools —the Dubard School ($575,000), the Magnolia Speech School ($500,000) and the Lighthouse Academy for Dyslexia ($200,000) — would also receive state funds as they did the year before.
More than $7.463 million of this discretionary funding was requested by the MDE in its fiscal 2022 budget request to be redirected to “line items that support the vision, mission and goals of the MDE.”
Teach for America is a non-profit organization that recruits recent college graduates to teach for two years at impoverished urban and rural communities such as the Mississippi Delta. In 2019, according to its Internal Revenue Service Form 990 tax filing, the organization received $225 million from such private donors as the Walton Family Foundation and more than $52 million from government entities such as the state of Mississippi. The MDE didn’t request the appropriation for the non-profit.
Jobs for MS Graduates is a non-profit based in Jackson that received $1.8 million of its $1.972 million in 2019 revenues from governmental entities. On its IRS Form 990 filing, the organization says its function is to help keep children in school through graduate and provide work-based learning experience that either leads to career advancement or enrollment in an institution of higher learning. MDE was opposed to the outlay for this non-profit.
Amplify Data Coaching is a Brooklyn-based firm that was selected by the MDE in 2015 for its data coaching program designed to help teachers develop technical skills to interpret data, build teaching skills and foster greater cooperation. The program established after the Legislature passed Senate Bill 2572 in 2014 that was designed to improve student outcomes through data-driven professional development for educators.
The pilot program is aimed at helping educators in failing school districts.