Contrary to what you will hear from many candidates running for office, Mississippi is spending more taxpayer funds to educate a decreasing amount of K-12 students, according to data from the U.S. Census Bureau.

In 2014, local, state and federal funding added up to $4.467 billion or about $9,068 per each of the state’s 492,586 students in public schools.

Fast forward to 2017, taxpayers spent a total of $4.75 billion on K-12 in Mississippi from local, state and federal sources. That added up to $10,092 apiece to educate 470,668 students enrolled in public schools.

Those add up to 7.57 percent and 6.8 percent increases, respectively, in state and local spending compared with 2014. 

During that same period, enrollment in Mississippi public schools decreased by 4.5 percent.

Mississippi ranks 41st in per unadjusted, total per-pupil spending among the 50 states and the District of Columbia. 

South Carolina (35th) is the second highest ranking Southeastern state in per-student spending, along with Arkansas (36th), Georgia (40th), Alabama (42nd) and Florida (45th). 

The District of Columbia spends the most per student nationally, an astronomical $27,696. According to a 2018 audit report, students are allowed to pass courses despite excessive unexcused absences and there is a culture of passing and graduating students who didn’t meet standards.

AreaTotalFederal sourcesState sourcesLocal sourcesEnrollmentPer pupil spending
District of Columbia $       1,342,220  $        134,959  $                     –    $       1,207,261 48,462 $         27,696 
New York $     61,100,409  $     3,347,393  $     24,830,862  $     32,922,154 2,598,181 $         23,517 
Connecticut $     10,516,316  $        420,593  $       4,141,590  $       5,954,133 496,074 $         21,199 
New Jersey $     27,408,345  $     1,142,878  $     11,047,025  $     15,218,442 1,360,686 $         20,143 
Alaska $       2,663,488  $        309,525  $       1,824,373  $          529,590 132,737 $         20,066 
Vermont $       1,672,580  $        102,434  $       1,495,453  $            74,693 87,630 $         19,087 
Wyoming $       1,771,027  $        112,709  $          965,213  $          693,105 93,925 $         18,856 
Massachusetts $     16,474,364  $        791,029  $       6,587,492  $       9,095,843 919,967 $         17,908 
Pennsylvania $     27,647,475  $     1,812,609  $     10,272,392  $     15,562,474 1,576,334 $         17,539 
Rhode Island $       2,289,429  $        186,551  $          867,512  $       1,235,366 133,230 $         17,184 
New Hampshire $       2,943,450  $        161,989  $       1,003,995  $       1,777,466 178,801 $         16,462 
Maryland $     13,978,426  $        816,033  $       6,186,736  $       6,975,657 885,820 $         15,780 
Delaware $       1,904,776  $        133,055  $       1,137,764  $          633,957 121,542 $         15,672 
Illinois $     30,407,109  $     2,301,827  $     11,163,462  $     16,941,820 2,016,729 $         15,077 
Hawaii $       2,696,766  $        286,988  $       2,354,601  $            55,177 181,550 $         14,854 
Maine $       2,609,930  $        182,961  $       1,032,280  $       1,394,689 178,216 $         14,645 
Ohio $     22,423,472  $     1,692,769  $       9,492,461  $     11,238,242 1,590,877 $         14,095 
North Dakota $       1,530,158  $        155,894  $          901,032  $          473,232 109,667 $         13,953 
Minnesota $     11,017,479  $        630,445  $       7,603,409  $       2,783,625 818,803 $         13,456 
Michigan $     17,529,062  $     1,563,397  $     10,073,758  $       5,891,907 1,327,204 $         13,208 
Wisconsin $     11,001,272  $        830,568  $       5,709,579  $       4,461,125 855,924 $         12,853 
West Virginia. $       3,502,513  $        351,957  $       2,033,948  $       1,116,608 273,170 $         12,822 
Louisiana $       8,323,024  $     1,272,004  $       3,455,315  $       3,595,705 656,257 $         12,683 
Nebraska $       3,926,537  $        318,179  $       1,283,012  $       2,325,346 318,853 $         12,315 
Iowa $       6,194,941  $        455,586  $       3,247,115  $       2,492,240 509,831 $         12,151 
Indiana $     12,149,675  $        933,891  $       7,632,238  $       3,583,546 1,002,135 $         12,124 
Washington $     12,943,921  $     1,030,232  $       7,833,024  $       4,080,665 1,098,187 $         11,787 
Montana $       1,712,493  $        201,528  $          822,788  $          688,177 145,559 $         11,765 
Kansas $       5,812,358  $        419,415  $       3,265,012  $       2,127,931 494,062 $         11,764 
Virginia $     15,083,311  $     1,009,659  $       5,994,897  $       8,078,755 1,286,711 $         11,722 
Missouri $     10,163,998  $        895,743  $       4,267,069  $       5,001,186 887,503 $         11,452 
Oregon $       6,573,206  $        521,463  $       3,393,147  $       2,658,596 576,911 $         11,394 
California $     69,857,908  $     7,415,061  $     38,410,554  $     24,032,293 6,195,344 $         11,276 
New Mexico $       3,601,387  $        466,320  $       2,505,492  $          629,575 319,526 $         11,271 
South Carolina $       8,405,682  $        812,536  $       3,902,923  $       3,690,223 747,868 $         11,240 
Arkansas $       5,175,529  $        552,738  $       4,006,889  $          615,902 478,996 $         10,805 
Kentucky $       7,228,770  $        825,742  $       3,966,872  $       2,436,156 683,864 $         10,570 
Texas $     52,609,018  $     5,643,178  $     20,510,815  $     26,455,025 5,087,263 $         10,341 
Colorado $       9,117,534  $        681,230  $       3,961,719  $       4,474,585 885,492 $         10,297 
Georgia $     17,817,933  $     1,804,212  $       7,837,335  $       8,176,386 1,732,691 $         10,283 
Mississippi $       4,750,000  $        664,697  $       2,243,098  $       1,559,519 470,668 $         10,092 
Alabama $       7,355,547  $        794,090  $       4,031,547  $       2,529,910 744,930 $           9,874 
South Dakota $       1,342,877  $        186,216  $          413,544  $          743,117 136,117 $           9,866 
Nevada $       4,201,457  $        381,596  $       2,651,854  $       1,168,007 442,931 $           9,486 
Florida $     26,072,680  $     3,112,027  $     10,460,928  $     12,499,725 2,801,945 $           9,305 
North Carolina $     13,462,754  $     1,529,624  $       7,849,343  $       4,083,787 1,457,600 $           9,236 
Tennessee $       9,215,027  $     1,095,377  $       4,315,952  $       3,803,698 1,000,662 $           9,209 
Oklahoma $       6,032,331  $        690,122  $       2,983,860  $       2,358,349 669,462 $           9,011 
Arizona $       8,293,591  $     1,102,980  $       3,182,285  $       4,008,326 936,147 $           8,859 
Utah $       4,400,351  $        385,210  $       2,363,055  $       1,652,086 588,119 $           7,482 
Idaho $       2,084,312  $        232,593  $       1,319,582  $          532,137 279,026 $           7,470 

The highest ranking Southeastern state is Louisiana, which spends $12,683 per pupil and is ranked 23rd.

The Pelican State uses a similar K-12 education funding formula to the Mississippi Adequate Education Program, the Minimum Foundation Program, to divide up state funding among school districts. 

The difference between the two states is that the MFP amount is constitutionally mandated by the Louisiana state constitution, leaving the Louisiana legislature with precious little maneuvering room in the budget during tough economic times.

The MAEP, thanks to a 2017 decision by the state Supreme Court, is not a binding funding amount for the legislature.

In fiscal 2020, the MAEP formula amount totaled $2.477 billion and the legislature appropriated $2.246 billion, a difference of $231,505,356.

In 2017, state ($2.413 billion or 50.8 percent), local ($1.666 billion or 35.1 percent) and $671 million for federal spending (14.1 percent) composed the taxpayer outlay on K-12 education in Mississippi.

For Mississippi to equal Louisiana in per-pupil spending, the state would have to spend more than $619 million more in state K-12 spending and more than $428 million in local spending.

According to the Census data, Louisiana spends more on salaries and benefits (80.98 percent versus 79.4 percent in Mississippi) and a slightly smaller percentage — 55.76 percent versus 56.68 percent for the Magnolia State — on instruction related outlays.

Louisiana (38.79 percent) spends more on support services — defined as school and district office administration and instructional staff support — than Mississippi (36.88 percent).