Mississippi schools get creative in funding campus improvements

Published 10:27 pm Monday, August 14, 2023

The Educational Facilities Revolving Loan Fund (EFRLF) is a new initiative passed by the Mississippi Legislature designed to support public education infrastructure. Specifically, the program makes funds available for school districts to pay down district debt, repair or renovate buildings, or build new Pre-Kindergarten or Career and Technical Education Centers across the state.

State leaders provided an initial allocation of $40 million to establish the EFRLF as an evergreen fund, meaning districts receiving these funds pay it back over ten equal annual installments at 0% interest. This money is in turn loaned out again each year providing a perpetual funding source for schools.

Through this program, 61 local education agencies have been awarded financial support offered by the Revolving Loan Fund. In its inaugural year, funds have been awarded to a diverse range of districts across Mississippi, fostering an equitable approach to educational development. Examples of how the funds are being used include emergency road repairs, roof replacements, building new Pre-Kindergarten centers, and fixing bathrooms.

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Jason Dean, Ph.D. who serves as Senior Vice President of PATH expressed his enthusiasm for the fund, “This initiative marks a significant milestone in Mississippi’s ongoing commitment to improve the quality of education for our students. By partnering with PATH, the state is leveraging our expertise in education policy and infrastructure solutions while contributing to the significant education gains Mississippi has seen in the last several years. We firmly believe that investing in education is investing in the future of our state.”

Superintendent Will Smith, Ph.D. of West Bolivar School District, and an advocate of the program, shared his insights: “We are grateful to the Mississippi state legislature for putting education first by creating this program. As with many school districts, my district has consistent ongoing deferred maintenance needs, and access to capital is always a challenge. This commonsense program will have a positive impact on improving our student’s learning environments.”

Superintendent Ken Barron, Ph.D. of Yazoo County School District has this to say about the program, “The education revolving loan fund is a long-term solution to help us focus on the students instead of focusing on outstanding critical infrastructure issues. This evergreen program ensures that funds will be available to continue supporting future education needs.”

The next round of EFRLF applications will be open in January 2024. To learn more about the program and submit an application, please visit msedfund.ms.