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Mississippi educators rally for funding.

JACKSON, Miss. (AP) -- Community-college leaders and school superintendents converged on the Capitol late last month to seek full funding for education.

"We've come such a long way in Mississippi and it would be a travesty to go back," State Superintendent of Education Henry Johnson said during a news conference.

"What are the little poor kids in Mississippi going to do if we don't continue to fully fund education?" Johnson said. "How are they going to compete with kids from all over the country?"

The House recently adopted a $2 billion bill designed to fund most K-12 education needs for the fiscal year that starts July 1. The bill includes money for a teacher pay raise.

Senate leaders have not said when their chamber will consider a funding plan for public schools.

The House and Senate must finish writing all budgets by early May, but House leaders said they want to finalize the K-12 budget by early April se superintendents can meet a deadline to offer teaching contracts for the coming year.

About 120 members of the Mississippi Faculty Association of Community and Junior Colleges held a separate news conference on the Capitol's south steps.

Jane Flowers of Vicksburg, the association president, said stable funding is needed to attract and retain good instructors on the two-year campuses.

"We're concerned for the past several years that we have received cuts in out funding," Flowers said.

Rep. Bobby Shows, D-Ellisville, thanked the community-college instructors and presidents for pushing their case at the Capitol.

"As the old saying goes, the wheel that squeaks the loudest gets the grease," Shows said. "If you don't do a little squeaking, you ain't going to get much grease. This is the right way to get it."

Jones County Schools Superintendent Thomas Prine said if the Senate shortchanges public schools, education will be devastated.

"We've got to fully fund education and move forward with the progress we've made in the past," Prine said.

Gwendolyn Durham, financial director of Indianola School District, said her district might lose some jobs if funding falls short.

"I don't understand how can we lay off teachers and follow No Child Left Behind," Durham said, referring to a federal education plan that requires additional testing.
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Publication:Community College Week
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Apr 12, 2004
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