District 16 House Representative Katrina Jackson spoke to a group of concerned parents and citizens Thursday night about the Morehouse Parish School Board and the state of it's budget at a community forum she along with the MPSB hosted.
Jackson talked about the lack of unity in the parish regarding public schools as well as the budget used to run the system.
"You hold the future of what Morehouse Parish will look like in your hands," Jackson said. "It is time to partner with each other instead of fighting."
Jackson said 73 percent of the Board's budget came from state funding in the form of MFP money. Minimum Foundation Program is the formula that determines the cost to educate students at public elementary and secondary schools and defines state and local funding contributions to each district. This term is used to refer specifically to the portion the state pays per student to each school district. The rate of funding per child has not increased in five years despite the fact that costs have steadily climbed and enrollment in the parish's public schools have decreased, thus causing budgetary problems.
Jackson also said that while she was not a supporter of charter schools, she was not against Beekman Charter School.
"I am against charter laws at the state level, but I am not against Beekman," Jackson said. "Beekman will have around 1,000 students that are mine as well as yours and I will support them."
When asked should the Board have denied Beekman their charter, Jackson said no. She explained to the group that if the charter for Beekman had been denied on the local level, they would have then applied on the state level, been approved for the upcoming school year and the Board would lose both the MFP funds as well as student's test scores.
She also asked to be held accountable by residents for her actions in the legislature.
"I want you to put so much pressure on me and the other area representatives that we dare not come home after the next session without an MFP increase," Jackson said. But, you need to be involved with the school board as well as your representatives. Go to meetings. Call your board members."