Mississippi school districts struggle with unfunded mandates

Lauren Williams's picture
Monday, July 28, 2014

There was some complaining during Hattiesburg Public School District’s budget hearing earlier this month. It came when chief financial officer Terry Stennis was talking about the $18.6 million the district was getting from the state.

“If we don’t get enough money from the state, but we are under mandates to do certain things (by the state) — if we continue to see underfunding, the district will see cuts in the future,” he said.

Stennis was referring to unfunded mandates — laws that require an organization to perform certain actions, yet provide no money to help fulfill those actions.

When asked by school board members what state mandates were causing the district financial distress, Superintendent James Bacchus mentioned the law that takes effect this upcoming school year requiring every third-grader to read proficiently or be held back.

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