JACKSON, Miss. (WJTV) – On Thursday, the State Board of Education (SBE) awarded $15,450,000 in grants to 11 school districts to implement new State Invested Pre-K (SIP) programs.

During the 2022 legislative session, the Mississippi Legislature appropriated $20 million in new state funding to the Mississippi Department of Education (MDE) to provide grant opportunities to Other Early Learning Programs through public schools, including public school pre-kindergarten programs not participating in MDE’s Early Learning Collaboratives (ELC).

The remaining funds will be used for overall management of the SIP program, including hiring coaches, financial management and coordination of the program. The grant period is Nov. 14, 2022 through June 30, 2025.

SIP programs will expand MDE’s offering of high-quality pre-K programs and have the capacity to serve 1,000 four-year-old children in 50 classrooms in school districts that are not part of an ELC.

However, MDE officials said SIP programs will meet all 10 National Institute for Early Education Research (NIEER) benchmarks: use of early learning standards, curriculum supports, teacher degree, teacher specialized training, assistant teacher degree, staff professional development, maximum class size, staff-child ratio, screenings and referrals, and a continuous quality improvement system.

The new Mississippi Beginnings: Pre-K curriculum, intended to support any preschool teacher in providing rich, play-based, intentional developmentally appropriate instructions, will be implemented in MDE’s ELCs and the new SIP programs.

Additional SIP funding opportunities have not been planned.

Courtesy: MDE