In Mississippi, education money gap grows to $1.5B

In Mississippi, education money gap grows to $1.5B

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DURANT, Miss. (AP) — There are fewer teachers and local property taxes are higher because Mississippi lawmakers have spent $1.5 billion less on education than what's mandated by law.

An Associated Press review finds the number of teachers shrank by 6 percent — about 2,000 teachers — from 2008 to 2013. Teaching assistants, once mandatory through third grade, have become increasingly rare.

About 80 percent of Mississippi's 146 school districts raised property taxes since 2008, the last time lawmakers provided full funding under the state formula.

In Durant, one of Mississippi's smallest districts, administrators retain as many teaching slots as possible by forgoing new books. There's a leaky roof, no marching band and no advanced placement classes.

Superintendent Louise Sanders-Tate says she hires teachers fresh out of college because they make lower salaries.

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