November 10, 2016
JACKSON, Miss. — The Mississippi State Board of Education voted today to add four new early learning collaboratives (ELC) to the current list of 10 to provide high-quality early childhood education programs to 4 year-old students.
The ELC expansion is made possible by a $1 million increase in state funds for the program, which brings the total appropriation to $4 million for fiscal year 2017. The Early Learning Collaborative Act of 2013 established the ELC program, which provides funding to local communities to establish, expand, support and facilitate the successful implementation of quality early childhood education and development services.
The Mississippi Department of Education (MDE) issued the request for proposals on Aug. 29 and accepted applications through Sept. 26. The MDE reviewed all 15 applications received. Four of the 15 applicants gained the required points to qualify for the interview round, and the MDE submitted all four applicants for the SBE’s final approval. They are:
- Agape Community Development Center - Canton School District
- Greenwood School District
- Grenada School District
- Starkville-Oktibbeha School District
The ELCs will receive $247,250 annually for three years, as state funds are available. Each entity will receive enough funding to provide 115 full-time seats for pre-kindergarten classrooms. The four collaboratives will serve 460 children with a total allocation of $989,000 per year.
“Research has shown the powerful link to high-quality early childhood programs and future academic success, and I believe these communities will reap the benefits of collaborating to ensure every student receives a strong start in school,” said Dr. Carey Wright, state superintendent of education.
The new ELCs first funding year will be a planning year and begin January 1, 2017 until June 30, 2017. The second year will be July 1, 2017 until June 30, 2018, and the third will be July 1, 2018 until June 30, 2019.
The new programs will join the current 10 ELCs that serve approximately 1,700 students statewide. The National Institute for Early Education Research (NIEER) recognized Mississippi’s ELCs in its 2015 State of Preschool yearbook for meeting all 10 quality standards for early childhood education, putting Mississippi among the top states in the nation that meet all 10 benchmarks.
ELCs must include a lead partner, which can be a public school or other nonprofit group with the expertise and capacity to manage an ELC’s pre-K program. Funds will be competitively awarded based on evidence of existing strong local collaboration, capacity, commitment, need, ability to demonstrate enhanced outcomes for participating children, and availability of funds.
A statewide assessment of kindergarten readiness among students in the state’s ELCs in spring 2016 showed that all ELCs achieved the target score on the Kindergarten Readiness Assessment that indicates students are prepared for kindergarten. At the student-level, 71.4 percent met the target readiness score, which is an increase from 59 percent in 2015.
Patrice Guilfoyle, APR
Director of Communications
Jean Cook, APR