The following offers highlights of the recent legislative sessions. Precollegiate enrollment figures are based on fall 2004 data reported by state officials for public elementary and secondary schools. The figures for precollegiate education spending do not include federal flow-through funds, unless noted.
Mississippi took some steps forward on education policy in this year’s legislative session. But state leaders did not boost the K-12 education budget as much as some advocates had hoped, and Gov. Haley Barbour, a first-term Republican, failed to persuade the Democratic-controlled legislature to pass many of his education proposals.
Lawmakers voted to hike K-12 funding by $145 million to about $2.2 billion during a special session that ended in May.
The 7 percent increase, while less than school funding advocates had wanted, was a sizable jump from last year’s increase of less than 1 percent, which forced some districts to cut staffing levels and budgets. (“New Mississippi Budget Draws Mixed Reviews,” June 8, 2005.)
The budget for fiscal 2006 completes a six-year plan to raise teacher salaries to the Southeast average. Next year’s raise will be 8 percent for teachers, bringing the state average to about $41,413.
Each teacher was also allotted $200 for classroom supplies, up from $100 per teacher in the current fiscal year, but not the $500 each that Gov. Barbour wanted.
The governor did not succeed in gaining approval for his UpGrade Education Act, which would have reduced paperwork for teachers, allowed charter schools in the state for the first time, and granted more regulatory freedom to high-performing school districts.