The new ELCs will serve 780 pre-K 4-year-olds in nine new classrooms, 30 existing classrooms.
The Mississippi State Board of Education (SBE) voted Aug. 18, to add five new early learning collaboratives (ELC) to the current list of 30 to provide high-quality early childhood education pre-K programs to 4-year-old students.
This ELC expansion is made possible by $5.9 million in state funds to be used by June 2025. State funding for the ELC program has steadily increased over the years starting with a $3 million appropriation in 2013-14 when the program began to $24 million for the 2022-23 school year. The total state appropriation for the ELC program so far is $70.3 million.
The new ELCs are:
- Biloxi Early Learning Collaborative
- Hollandale Early Learning Collaborative
- Jefferson County Early Learning Collaborative
- Lowndes County Early Learning Collaborative
- Pass Christian Early Learning Collaborative
The five new ELCs will serve 780 pre-K 4-year-olds in nine new classrooms and 30 existing classrooms. With this round of funding, more than 6,800 total ELC students will be served in the 2022-23 school year.
An additional funding opportunity for school districts, local Head Starts, licensed childcare centers and private or parochial schools to join the ELC program will be advertised in a few weeks at mdek12.org/PN/RFP.
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 pre-K early childhood education and development services. The main goal of establishing ELCs is to better prepare preschoolers for kindergarten.
In spring 2022, 65.12% of ELC students met the end-of-year target score, compared to 61.53% of students in other public pre-K classrooms, which included a variety of class configurations, including Title I, self-contained special education and other school district pre-K programs.
In 2022, the National Institute for Early Education Research (NIEER) recognized Mississippi as one of only five states that met all quality standards for pre-K.
“One of MDE’s top goals is for every child to have access to a high-quality early childhood program, and the expansion of ELCs in the state helps us do that,” said Dr. Kim Benton, interim state superintendent of education. “This continual investment from Mississippi lawmakers supports greater outcomes for students and the state as a whole.”