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New pre-K program starting

The Picayune School District was approved a grant for $43,000 by the Mississippi Board of Education to start a voluntary prekindergarten program.

Dr. Pamela Thomas, director of Picayune’s Early Head Start, said the grant is a collaborative effort with Picayune School District, Early Head Start and Head Start.

“We were very excited because we know the difference it will make for our child coming from both social economic backgrounds,” Thomas said. “It will put the children (in the district) on a level playing field.”

The program would be available to any student who has turned four years old by Sept. 1, 2013 despite the parents’ household income.

Early Head Start and Head Start currently offer pre-K programs to children, but are required to have 90 percent of children enrolled in Head Start centers meet low-income guidelines.

Thomas said the district is planning to implement three pre-K classrooms at South Side Lower Elementary School by August 2014. Starting in January, the district will open one pre-K class. Currently, there are 40 children signed up to begin in January.

“Also, this money will provide professional development to strengthen curriculum development as well,” Thomas said.

She said the school district is partnering with the Lower Pearl River Valley Foundation to match the $43,000 granted to them by the Board of Education.

Parents interested in learning more about the new pre-K program can call Picayune’s Early Head Start at 601-799-0682.

Thomas said that offices will reopen on January 6, 2014.