TUPELO — The Tupelo Public School District says it will expand its pre-kindergarten program for 4-year-olds.
The Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal reports starting Dec. 1, the pre-K program will go from 12 classes to 13. That will increase the enrollment from the current 240 children to 260.
The announcement of an additional class at the Early Childhood Education Center was made during a school board meeting this week. The growth was made possible when the district learned it would receive about $200,000 more than it expected from a federal funding source.
The pre-K program teaches language and thinking skills and helps children learn about responsibility and respect for themselves and others, said Dale Warriner, the district’s federal programs director.
“It is fabulous we can serve more and more 4-year-old children and better prepare them for when they go to kindergarten,” Warriner said.
Superintendent Gearl Loden says American children need more access to pre-K programs so they’ll be able to learn when they start elementary school.
“Mississippi is the only state in the Southeast that does not provide money to pre-K,” Loden said. “Europe and Asia have also long been providing funding for pre-K. In order to compete with other states and other nations, we need to take the lead and can’t wait for our state to fund pre-K.”
Gov. Phil Bryant and top lawmakers say establishing a statewide pre-K program would be too expensive.
The Tupelo district will hire a licensed teacher and an assistant teacher for the new class.
Surveys conducted by the Tupelo district have shown a high interest from parents and community members for expansion of the district’s pre-K program, Warriner said.
— Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal