State Auditor Pickering: MAEP Formula Not Reliable

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JACKSON, Miss. – The Mississippi Adequate Education Program, also known as MAEP, is the formula used to fund public school districts in the state.

The State Auditor, Stacey Pickering says there is a flaw in the system when it comes to districts reporting the number of students attending school.

“What we’ve found in the last 12 months is most of the school districts we’ve audited are not actually following the 63 percent law and have not implemented it,” says Pickering. He adds for the last few years he hasn’t validated and certified the MAEP formula for the state.

In 2013 legislatures agreed that students must be in school for 63 percent of the day to be counted as present. “That’s addressed about $1.9 Billion of the funding formula. So these aren’t small numbers we’re talking about,” says Pickering.

Funding is partly based on the number of students attending school. Another part of the formula and Pickering’s audit, includes free lunches for students. “Potentially 53 school districts in Mississippi could have 100 percent of their students on free lunch,” says Pickering.

It’s part of a federal program that requires the state to provide free lunches for “At Risk” students. What that means, legislation hasn’t defined “At Risk” but the state would be required to pay additional money to the school for them.

“If a school district has a predominant number of students on free and reduced lunch, the odds are they’re in a property poor district anyway,” says Former Governor Ronnie Musgrove, the co-author of the MAEP formula.

“We’re fighting a flawed formula that’s not even accurate that’s not even correct, bit it’s how we fund education in Mississippi,” says Pickering.

Former Governor Ronnie Musgrove says the formula isn’t flawed but it’s under funded.

“When we under fund it you are looking at a school district and saying we’re not going to give you the money it takes to be successful,” says Gov. Musgrove.

Pickering wouldn’t release which specific districts had discrepancies, but those audits will take place in the next few weeks.

Full story: http://www.wjtv.com/story/26520912/state-auditor-pickering-maep-formula-not-reliable