The grant, approved by the Mississippi Board of Education on Thursday, goes to the Corinth-Alcorn Prentiss Early Learning Collaborative. It is one of 11 grants approved through the Early Learning Collaborative Act, the first state-funded, voluntary prekindergarten program.
“The collaborative partners presently serve 233 four-year-olds,” said Corinth Superintendent Lee Childress, “and we intend to use part of these funds to increase that number by 65 additional students. It will create one new pre-K class in the Alcorn School District. It will also provide one pre-K class for the Prentiss County School District.”
The grant, which is up to $433,225 in year one and up to $519,225 in years two and three, will provide classroom teachers and assistants for the new classrooms being created.
It will be the Prentiss County district’s first pre-K class. The Alcorn School District presently has 40 pre-K students, while Corinth’s pre-K program is in its third year with five classes of 20 each.
The collaborative extends beyond the traditional classroom. Partners also include the Corinth and Kendrick Head Starts and a number of day cares — The Giving Tree, Just Kids, Kidsville, Kid Kountry and Little Blessings.
The intent of the effort is to ensure that all four-year-olds are getting a quality experience and that early childhood learning standards are in place.
“We believe through the support this grant will provide, we will see increased achievement in these students as they move through school,” said Childress.
The grant will fund two other positions — a master teacher who will coordinate all of the activities and be involved in professional development and a family outreach coordinator who will provide parent training and work with parents to obtain family services. The grant will also provide materials, including extensive classroom libraries; technology for some of the classrooms; and extensive professional development for teachers and assistants.
The state received 30 applications and interviewed 18 from the pool.
“We were impressed by the high level of creativity and innovation that went into developing these quality early childhood education programs,” said O. Wayne Gann, the board chairman.
Also involved in the local collaborative are CARE, the Commission on the Future of Alcorn County, Excel by 5, Metametrics, the Program for Research and Evaluation in Public Schools, LINK and The Alliance.