As Mississippi lawmakers debate how much they can spend on K-12 education this coming fiscal year, a former business executive announced that he’ll offer the state $50 million in student-performance incentives—if lawmakers approve “full funding” for education.
Jim Barksdale, a former chief executive of Netscape Communications who hails from Jackson, Miss., proposed last week to provide $5,000 awards to students, first when they graduate from high school and again when they finish college.
Eligibility would be limited to students in 70 schools around the state served by the nonprofit Barksdale Reading Institute, an organization based in Oxford, Miss., that Mr. Barksdale started in 2000.
The catch is that the Democratic-controlled legislature must approve an increase of more than $200 million in K-12 funding for the fiscal year that starts this summer. Claiborne Barksdale, the executive director of the reading institute and Jim Barksdale’s brother, estimated that several thousand students could qualify for the awards over six to nine years.
The legislature is scheduled to adjourn its regular session on April 8.