Mark Henderson is the co-founder of Lazy Magnolia, one of the state’s largest breweries. He also owns and operates an engineering firm in South Mississippi. He says he owes a lot of his success to the Mississippi School for Mathematics and Science (MSMS).
“I can tell you, that school was huge,” says Henderson. “Not only would I not be who I am, I would not be where I am, and I certainly would not be doing what I do.”
This week, officials with the school announced that they are cutting the number of students who will be admitted next year.
The cuts aren’t new, MSMS has reduced enrollment by 12 percent over the past five years from 271 in 2011-2012 to 220 next year.
The reason? The school has received level funding from the state for the past several years.
“We’ve received flat funding over the last couple of years, however, we’ve been supplementing that operational budget which means we’ve tried to maintain a certain number of students,” says Germain McConnell, the school’s executive director. “Because we can’t continue to dip into that source, now we’re seeing a reduction of students,” he continues.
Lawmakers appropriated nearly $4.5 million to MSMS for the 2016-2017 school year. The school needs another $1.5 million to bring enrollment back to 275 students.
“To have to reduce the number of those we accept really hurts those students that need to be here most,” says McConnell. “Students who are in areas where schools just simply don’t have the resources to offer them the advanced level courses and experiences they deserve.”
Appropriations from the legislature are almost exclusively the sole source of revenue for the state’s special schools. However, some schools have special alumni foundations that give scholarships so that additional students may attend.
A version of this story was first published by MPB on June 3, 2016.