Mississippi officials are mulling a proposal to take $312 million from higher-education institutions and give it to the state’s public K-12 schools, the Clarion-Ledger reported.
Or, state leaders are at least asking the question, much to the dismay of the public university and community college systems in the state.
“I can’t even answer that,” Higher Education Commissioner Hank Bounds was reported as saying in response to a question about what the systems would do if the funding were redirected to K-12 education in the state.
The tense debate over K-12 funding was sparked when a group of 21 school districts took the state to court in an effort to collect funding that hasn’t been provided since 2010. State officials say it isn’t possible to make up the shortfall and further, Attorney General Jim Hood said he does not believe that a 2007 guarantee of full funding legally bound future legislatures to that promise.
K-12 proponents have accused state officials of trying to cause conflict between the school districts and higher-education systems in the state to avoid addressing the issue.
“For our elected officials to tell the public that we have to choose between a quality system of K-12 education and a quality system of higher education is just a cop-out,” Nancy Loome, executive director of a K-12 lobbying group called Parents’ Campaign, was reported as saying in the Clarion-Ledger.