Candidate Q&A: Senate District 9

Election 2023

Our public education questionnaire is offered to candidates in statewide and legislative elections. Search for candidates’ questionnaire responses below.
Election dates: Primary – August 8, 2023, General – November 7, 2023

General Election Candidate:
Nicole Akins Boyd (Incumbent)

Nicole Akins Boyd (Incumbent)

1. What is your experience with K-12 public schools, personally and/or with your children or family?
I am graduate of the Oxford School District. I have been involved as a volunteer, PTO mom, supporter, etc., when both of my children attended public schools. Presently, my husband volunteers at Lafayette Schools with their athletic programs. On a state wide level, I have participated in numerous committees with the State Department of Education working on special education and literacy committees. I have taught Special Education Law in one of the teacher training programs.

2. Do you agree that the Mississippi Adequate Education Program (MAEP) should be fully funded every year? If yes, what actions will you take to ensure full funding? If no, explain why.
I am supportive of the legislation the Senate passed this past legislative session that would have created the changes to fully fund MAEP.

3. What will you do to ensure state revenue that is sufficient to provide all of the services Mississippi’s citizens need to lead productive lives?
We must grow the State’s economy and increase our labor force participation rate. It is imperative to continue our efforts to increase CTE and workforce training.

4. Will you oppose vouchers that send taxpayer dollars to private schools, religious schools, home schools, or virtual schools? Why or why not?
Due to the fraud we have seen in other places, we would need to ensure that there is the same accountability measures that our public schools are held to. We must ensure accountability for taxpayer dollars.

5. Do you agree that all K-12 schools that receive taxpayer dollars, including private voucher schools, should be accountable to taxpayers for the quality of education they provide, using the same accountability measures as public schools?
Yes, all entities should be responsible for taxpayer dollars.

6. Public schools serve the vast majority of Mississippi students with disabilities. Do you agree that special education services in public schools should be fully funded every year? (Special education has been underfunded by the state every year since 2008.) If yes, how will you accomplish full funding? If no, explain why.
Long before I entered the legislature, I have been advocating for special education program funding. The federal government vastly underfunds special education. I have offered amendments in Senate Bills to help increase that funding and to ensure that students with disabilities get the resources needed. There is still much work to be accomplished in this area.

7. Do you agree that Mississippi should provide high quality early childhood education statewide?
Yes! I have supported the increase in high quality preschool seats, and I have sponsored legislation that has a task force that is already meeting to review how we increase the number of children we are serving in this State under Part C of IDEA.

8. The nation’s top teachers say that the greatest barriers to school success for K-12 students are family stress, poverty, and learning and psychological problems. What steps do you believe legislators should take to alleviate these obstacles for Mississippi children?
I have sponsored legislation that would give teachers and counselors more training and support to meet the needs of these students. In looking specifically at learning issues, Representative Deweese and I championed new Dyslexia ( and other learning issues) legislation to ensure that schools were giving children the appropriate support and teachers were being provided with basic awareness training. We need to ensure that our literacy coaches are trained on providing assistance on Dyslexia as well. Additionally, we have made changes with other agencies including CPS, DHS, and MDMH to provide supports to families. The legislature needs to ensure that there is systemic support for schools to assist children in their communities.

9. In the 2022 Legislative Session, a significant teacher pay raise was passed. Do you support continued pay increases to ensure that Mississippi’s teacher salaries keep pace with inflation and salaries in our neighboring states?
Yes. It is imperative to keep a strong teacher workforce. I supported this legislation wholeheartedly.

10. Do you agree that retired educators (and other retired state employees) should be able to draw their retirement while serving in the Legislature?
I support this in theory. However, as it has been explained to me there are some problems with PERS and federal tax issues.

11. Legislators have little or no staff to help them understand the many bills they must consider. Before introducing or supporting a bill that could affect public education, will you commit to seeking input from teachers, principals, superintendents, and parents of public school students in your district? Who will be advising you on education policies?
I have a team of parents, teachers, administrators, and superintendents I call and meet with. I am most appreciative of this team. I will continue this practice into my next term.

12. In the past, legislators have received tremendous pressure from the leaders of their chamber (House or Senate), state and party leaders, and corporate lobbyists, to vote in ways that could contradict the will of their constituents and harm their communities. How would you respond to such pressure?
You just do the right thing for your district! I will continue this mindset into my next term as I will continue to champion education.

Ricky Caldwell (defeated in primary)


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