State Auditor’s report reveals Mississippi’s school spending habits

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JACKSON, Miss. (WLBT) – Mississippi State Auditor Shad White is on round two of looking at school spending.

April’s report revealed enough that he says it warranted a closer look.

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“Money was going at an increasing rate to administrative costs at a faster clip than it was going inside the classroom,” explained White.

The first report was met with push back from The Parents’ Campaign that called it a “hit piece” in an attempt to give political cover to the legislature for refusing to pass a higher teacher pay raise. White says that was never the intent.

“It’s not about calling out any one group,” he explained. “The real purpose here is to make sure that we are putting as much money as we can into the thing that matters the most for kids which is teachers.”

The new angle is comparison. Mississippi’s outside-the-classroom spending percentage is fourth highest among all 17 states across the South, as defined by the U.S. Department of Education. The one putting the most money in the classroom is Maryland.

“If we were doing as well as Maryland at spending our money in the classroom, we’d have another 250 million dollars to dedicate to the classroom,” noted White.

White is suggesting this is an instance where copying your neighbors is a good idea, but he does note that there are districts already making steps in the right direction. Jackson Public Schools superintendent, for example, is restructuring the central office and saving nearly a million dollars.

Finally, White says the state needs to take a look at the regulations being placed on the school districts.

“When you put more regulations on schools, they, a lot of times, have to hire more people to make sure they’re compliant with those regulations,” he added.

If you look at just our border states, we have consistently put the lowest percentage of spending inside the classroom each year since 2006.

The Auditor says this won’t be the last you’ll see of his office analyzing school spending. He says they’ll keep looking at how the areas taking up large amounts of our state budget could be improved or find savings.

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