The Yazoo County School District will provide four-year-old pre-Kindergarten in the 2019-2020 school year.
The county school board approved the establishment of a pre-K program during last week’s meeting. The goal is to have four-year-old students begin school in August of 2019 with other students within the district.
Pre-K is another step for early education within the district to increase literacy among its young students.
The district will be using federal Title 1 dollars to provide the pre-K program. Superintendent Dr. Ken Barron said it will cost about $250,000 for the program’s first year, followed with $231,000 the second year and $230,000 the third year.
“But it is a higher return on your investment,” Barron said. “We do have the money in our federal budget so that we can earmark some money. We also can move some staff around to cover some of these costs.”
A maximum of 20 students per classroom would be placed in two classes at Bentonia-Gibbs Elementary School and one class at Linwood Elementary School.
And no transportation will be provided to the pre-K students based on several travel requirements for that age group.
Barron said the establishment of a pre-K program within the county school district would prove beneficial in early preparation of the students entering the kindergarten program and, eventually, into elementary schools. Early education could be the key to continued improved state test scores, he added.
Based on the 2018 state Kindergarten Readiness State Assessment scores, the county school district tested 89 students with the average score being 461. That score is considered an Early Emergent Reader level.
Barron said the district’s instructors have done “an amazing job” with preparing its kindergarten class for their introduction into elementary school.
“Last year, we were in the top three districts in the state with the growth that our kids made from when they walked through the door to when they walked out,” Barron said. “When they first walked through the door, they were woefully low. If we can continue to bring that number up and continue to make growth, we will be reading at a higher level. We will be moving towards reaching our goal.”