The Jackson Public School District is spending only an average of 43 percent on instruction-related costs over the last decade, according to an analysis of records by Mississippi Matters.
Top school districts in Mississippi are spending up to 70 percent on instruction.
A $65 million bond issue that would fix the infrastructure issues spotlighted by a Mississippi Department of Education audit report released in August 2017 and fund other unspecified projects is up for a vote tomorrow.
Only twice, in 2008 and 2015, did the JPS spend 45 percent of its annual budget, which has averaged $207 million in the last decade, on instruction-related costs. The district has spent about $90 million annually on instruction-related costs, with a high of $99,567,608 in 2008 and a low this year of $84,395,601.
A similar-sized district, DeSoto County Public Schools, spent 70 percent on instruction last year and will increase that amount to 75 percent this year. In 2016, the district spent $154,868,510 of its $300,131,031 budget on instruction, or 51.6 percent.
The Ocean Springs School District spent 57 percent of its $52,720.503 budget on instruction in 2018.
In terms of real dollars, the Rankin County School District has outspent JPS on instruction despite a smaller enrollment — 19,314 students vs. 25,595 for JPS. In 2017, Rankin County spent $101,420,487 on instruction, while the JPS spent $89,646,903.
This year, the disparity is more stark. JPS spent $84,395,601 on instruction, while Rankin County spent $104,404,064. For those keeping score at home, that adds up to $5,405 per student in Rankin County spent on instruction, while JPS spent only $3,297 per student.
DeSoto, Ocean Springs and Rankin are A-rated districts in the last Mississippi Department of Education accountability grades, while the JPS has earned two consecutive F grades and has not earned a grade above D since the accountability standards became letter grades in 2011.
The JPS was listed third from the bottom among the state's 147 school districts.
The JPS district's annual budget — which is primarily funded by state funding and local property taxes — has decreased from $218,904,078 in 2008 to $197,716,558 in 2018, a 9.67 percent decrease. As for the district's enrollment, it has shrunk from 30,500 students to 25,595 in 2017, the last time data was available. That's a decrease of 16 percent.
If approved, the bond issue will add up to a five mill tax increase ($5 per $1,000 in taxable property value) since the 5 mills were supposed to expire this year.
Taxpayers living in the Jackson city limits are already paying 84.01 mills to support the JPS, the most in the metro area. Hinds County schools (67.05 mills), Clinton schools (67.94 mills), Rankin County schools (56.55 mills), Pearl schools (60.40 mills), Madison County schools (54.55 mills) and Canton schools (58.25 mills).