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State Auditor: Mississippi outpaces Southern states in outside-the-classroom spending

SHAD WHITE

Mississippi spent a higher percentage of public education money outside the classroom and on administrative expenditures than almost every other state in the South in the last 10 years according to a new report released today by State Auditor Shad White. The report also shows Mississippi spent a smaller portion of money inside the classroom than most other southern states during the same time.

The report found that, if Mississippi spent money inside the classroom at the same rate as the southern state that spends the highest percentage of its budget in the classroom, teachers could see an annual increase of $250 million into their classrooms. As a point of comparison, the $1,500 teacher pay raise signed into law in 2019 cost $77 million per year.

The Auditor’s report used information from the United States Department of Education to compare spending across all southern states.

Analyses of outside-the-classroom spending show Mississippi spent a higher percentage of money outside the classroom than any of its border states and other similar states. Mississippi also spent money on administration at a higher rate than any border or other similar state. Mississippi’s outside-the-classroom spending percentage is fourth highest among all 17 states across the South.

Looking inside the classroom, Mississippi is spending a lower percentage of its budget inside the classroom than it did ten years ago. Mississippi has ranked last among its border states for the percentage of spending inside the classroom each year since 2006 and ranked fourth-worst among all 17 southern states for the percentage of education funds spent inside the classroom.

The report recommends education policy leaders in Mississippi eliminate unnecessary regulations contributing to the increase in outside-the-classroom spending and that districts focus on reducing unnecessary administrative spending and salaries.

“As a graduate of Mississippi public schools myself and the son and grandson of Mississippi public school teachers, I know it’s important to make sure as many of our state public education dollars make it into the classroom as possible,” said Auditor Shad White. “This report shows we can learn something from the states around us when it comes to putting those dollars into teacher salaries and the classroom.”

In April 2019, the Auditor’s office released a report showing administrative spending had risen faster than instruction spending in Mississippi public schools over the last 10 years. Inflation-adjusted spending on administrative salaries has also increased over the last ten years, while spending on teachers’ salaries has decreased. Both reports can be found online at the Auditor’s website.

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