Better Schools petitions available

1STOCK NEMS education_news_chalk NEMSHOUSTON – There are those who would like to see public education, and especially funding for public education, go away.

But there are also those who want to see the state honor it commitment to education and they have drawn up a petition that could prompt the Legislature to fully fun public school districts across the state.

Friends of Mississippi public schools are working statewide to get signatures on petitions for a constitutional amendment to require the state to adequately fund kindergarten through Grade 12.

The petition drive is organized by Better Schools, Better Jobs, a statewide group formed to promote the issue for the November 2015 ballot.

Signature collectors will be seen at high school graduations and other school events, and throughout the summer.

“The process has a variety of phases,” said Patsy Brumfield, spokesman for Better Schools, Better Jobs. “We are in the process of gathering signatures and educating the public on what we are doing.

“Our deadline to collect signatures is Aug. 15,” said Brumfield. “Then we get the petition certified and we head to the Secretary of State in October and get him to put it on the ballot so Mississippians can vote on this.”

More than 107,000 signatures of registered voters will be required to get the issue on the ballot. Brumfield said Better School is seeking 120,000 signatures and would like 200,000. She said they currently have 87,000 signatures.

“Seventeen years ago the Legislature passed the Mississippi Adequate Education Program to financially shore up all school district,” Brumfield said. “The formula saw poorer school districts helped a little more than wealthy school districts and it had bi-partisan support.

“However, MAEP has been fully funded only twice since then” said Brumfield. “Schools have suffered because of this inadequate funding and our children have suffered, too.”

Brumfield added the state has also suffered, saying better schools would help Mississippi attract industry and better jobs.

Houston School Superintendent Dr. Steve Coker said Houston school children have been underfunded by MAEP to the tune of $4 million over the past four years. Okolona School district has lost over $70,000 a year over the past 17 years. Chickasaw County School District has been underfunded a total of $1.9 million by MAEP since 1997.

Anyone interested in the effort is asked to go to the website www.betterms.org or call (769) 524-6818.

 

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