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Mississippi Legislative Preview: State-funded Pre-K


January 2, 2018
Bracey Harris
Clarion Ledger

Rep. David Baria, D-Bay St. Louis, is hoping if the Legislature approves the lottery this year the windfall will go toward paying for early education.

Less than 6 percent of Mississippi’s 4-year-olds have access to state-funded pre-K.

Researchers have touted quality early education programs as one of the best strategies for ensuring young learners enter kindergarten prepared.

Results for the program show learners from nine of the 14 districts participating in the collaborative met the target score for kindergarten readiness.

Mississippi’s state pre-K program earns high marks from the National Institute for Early Education Research but remains limited in scope.

 “I hope we can increase the state funding from the $4 million (currently appropriated) and grow the number of collaboratives in the state,” Tollison said.

Rachel Canter, executive director of Mississippi First, which advocates for best practices in early learning, says her group is hoping the state’s early learning collaboratives will at a minimum be level funded for the next fiscal year, which starts July 1.

“I would say our next money goal would be to raise the per pupil spending level to $5,000,” she said.

Ideally, she says the state would pay half of that amount and the community would match the rest.