Transformational Education Bill Becomes Law

On Friday, April 26 the Mississippi House of Representatives overwhelmingly passed House Bill4130, the “Mississippi Student Funding Formula”, that is based on individual student needs. The Senate quickly passed the bill the following day, and today Governor Tate Reeves signed it into law.

 This is a revolutionary bill for public education in Mississippi. The legislation repeals the antiquated Mississippi Adequate Education Program (MAEP) and creates a new weighted student funding formula for distributing tax dollars to public school districts based on the characteristics of the students within each district. Districts will receive additional dollars for students with challenges like special needs or students who live in poverty. 

Here are the weights (in other words, a multiplier to support the additional costs of educating students) that will be added to the base student cost (the amount every student receives), which is $6,695 during the 2024-2025 school year: 

  • 30% for low-income students 
  • 15% for English Language Learners
  • Students entitled to and receiving special education services: 
    • 60% for Tier 1 (specific learning disability, speech and language impairment, or developmental delay) 
    • 110% for Tier 2 (autism, hearing impairment, emotional disability, orthopedic impairment, intellectual disability, or other health impairment) 
    • 130% for Tier 3 (visual impairment, deaf-blindness, multiple disabilities, traumatic brain injury) 
  • 5% for providing gifted education 
  • 10% for career and technical education 
  • 10% if the number of low-income students exceeds 35% of the school’s net enrollment, applied to the number of low-income students which exceeds the 35% threshold 
  • A sparsity weight is applied to the final weighted enrollment if the number of students enrolled per square mile in the district is less than 8 

The final version of the bill also includes an objective formula for calculating the base student cost that includes instructional cost, administrative cost, ancillary personnel and expenses, and operation and maintenance. The instructional cost component will be calculated as the average teacher salary in the state divided by the average number of students per teacher in the state. The administrative and ancillary components will be computed as a percentage of the instructional cost.  

As mentioned above, the base student cost for the 2024-2025 school year will be $6,695. It will be fully recalculated every four years (so the first recalculation of the base student cost will occur prior to the 2028-2029 school year). In the years between recalculations, the base student cost will increase each year based on an inflation factor.  

The bill provides that the base student cost may not be reduced unless total state revenue does not increase, in which case the legislature may retain or reduce the base student cost from the previous year. The bill also contains a three-year “hold harmless” provision that ensures that any school district will not receive less than the amount that the school district received for the 2023-2024 school year in any of the three following years.   

The total increase in education spending associated with the implementation of this funding formula is estimated to be around $220 million.  

For years we’ve advocated for embracing a public education funding formula that focuses on meeting the needs of individual students, rather than on simply funding systems. We have also encouraged more transparency in the formula’s computation. This landmark legislation accomplishes both of those goals. While we are hopeful our state leaders will continue fighting to improve education, including giving families the ability to choose the right school for them, we recognize just how transformational this bill is. 

Public schools represent an important choice for families and play a pivotal role in local communities. Hundreds of thousands of Mississippi parents choose to send their children to their local public schools each year, and it is imperative that we have a world-class system of public education.  

This bill alone will not ensure every child has access to a great school, but it’s a significant step in the right direction. We commend lawmakers for their work on this important issue and look forward to partnering together in the future to continue advancing meaningful educational policies in Mississippi.