RICHTON, Miss. — When Superintendent Noal Cochran had an open teaching position in this quiet town, he looked for applicants at the bottom of the salary ladder—those with as little experience as possible. When he needed a new football coach, he wanted a rookie “straight out of college” who would accept a smaller stipend.
And when he needed new textbooks, he chose history over physics or chemistry—subjects less likely to need updating.“When you’re trying to survive and make payroll, you really don’t worry about textbooks,” Cochran said of his district, which serves about 700 students and has been underfunded by a total of $5 million since 2011, according to The Parents’ Campaign, a nonprofit advocacy group that supports public schools.
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