For those of you in DeSoto County who have been made to believe that the Ballot 42 amendment, if passed, will give our district more money and more money for teachers and our students, please read the following information carefully. It is important for you to understand that you are being misled.
The Ballot 42 amendment reads, “the State shall provide for the establishment, maintenance and support of an adequate and efficient system of free public schools. The chancery courts of this State shall have the power to enforce this section with appropriate injunctive relief.”
First, you must understand that just because the word adequate is mentioned in this amendment, it does NOT mention MAEP or education funding. Adequate and efficient are not defined and are subjective. So let’s examine some evidence that could be used in court if our district were to sue the state to fully fund MAEP.
The first evidence to be used against us would be our financial audits as publicly posted on the Mississippi State Auditor’s website.
(Side Note: Because DeSoto County Schools is a high performing district, we get to choose who audits us. The State Auditor’s office does not audit us. An outside CPA audits our finances, making it harder for our district to dispute the accuracy of this information).
The most recent audit posted in reference to our district is for the 2014 FY. What is clearly stated in this financial audit, “General revenues of $220,128,688 for 2014 and $214,998,519 for 2013 were adequate to provide for these programs.” – pg. 8 of audit
(Notice it says WERE ADEQUATE).
On page 12, it goes on to say, “The District’s total revenues for the fiscal years ended June 30, 2014 and June 30, 2013 were $256,107,838 and $252,250,846, respectively. The total cost of all programs and services was $242,426,292 for 2014 and $232,437,227 for 2013.”
If you do the math above, this clearly reflects that our total expenditures were LESS than our total revenues. Page 18 states that our school district is financially stable. Again, this document reflects that our district has been adequately funded. Why would a judge look at this financial report from a CPA that WE CHOSE and rule that we are not being adequately funded?
Quote by Kuykendall, referring to our rainy day fund balance, “When I became superintendent in 2003, many classes were being held in trailers and our fund balance was $23 million,” Kuykendall said. “Today, we have no classroom trailers, and our fund balance is more than $74 million.” The article also states that our school district has Earned an “AA” rating by Moody’s, the highest bond rating in the state and even higher than the State of Mississippi.
Again, this all reflects financial stability. This is information that a judge would take into consideration when determining if we are being adequately funded.
Lastly, we should discuss the word EFFICIENT. What criteria would a judge use to determine efficiency? Would a judge use the ‘A’ rating that our district boasts regularly about to news outlets statewide? Most likely! Would a judge use our district’s ranking as #25 in the state out of 152 districts? Most likely! More importantly, what information or criteria could our district possibly use to prove that we are not efficient as a result of funding or a lack thereof?
With all of the promises of more money, how will our district leaders explain to educators that they were wrong if a judge in Hinds County looks at our finances and academic successes and determines we are beyond adequately funded, takes money away from us and leaves teachers worse off than they were before?! And let’s not forget, Kuykendall will be gone soon. It will be Cory Uselton left to explain to teachers why money was taken from them and from our kids and given to other districts in the state. No matter what pipe dreams are being sold, the numbers don’t lie, and NO ONE can predict how any judge will rule. Based on the evidence, it doesn’t look good for DeSoto County Schools. Is this really a gamble that citizens and educators are willing to make?!
Link to DeSoto County Schools financial audit from the MS State Auditor’s website: