A House Bill moving through the Senate could give incentives and more money to already high-performing school districts in Mississippi.
House Bill 1224 has multiple parts, with many aspects surrounding "A" and "B" graded schools and districts in the state. The bill would require the State Board of Education to develop a grant program for those schools. The grant money would be for "new, innovative educational programs."
According to the bill, school districts with the "A" or "B" accountability ratings and the licensed employees of those districts are exempt from requirements. Some of those include the exemption of:
The bill also stated that school districts with "A" and "B" accountability ratings may provide certain incentives for teachers, such as forgiveness of state student education loans, housing assistance and moving expenses in the same manner as provided for the Critical Needs Teacher Shortage Act.
"Having these extra dollars would allow us to look at other opportunities and enrich the learning process to enhance what we are doing," Petal School District Superintendent Matt Dillon said. "Right now, there are 143 school districts in Mississippi. According to the accountability data from 2016, only 53 have an 'A' or 'B' grade."
The Petal School District is an "A" rated district.
"Having these extra dollars would allow us to look at other opportunities and enrich the learning process to enhance what we are doing," Dillon said. "We're asked to do a lot with a little sometimes. We do a really good job of that. We've been able to collectively come together with the money we are allotted."
The Richton School District is a "C" rated district. Superintendent Clay Anglin said he hoped the money would be allotted to the struggling schools that need help.
"It seems to me that the formula is backwards, you'd want more funding for the schools that are struggling," Anglin said. "The most important part to a child's education is the teacher that's in a classroom. It's not technology, grants or money. The most important part is having a good quality teacher and let's face it, the "D" and "F" schools, that's where those teachers need to be."
House Bill 1224 is now in the Senate. If passed, the law would go into effect July 1, 2017.