Report To The People
We are in the last scheduled week of the 2023 Legislative Session and, as usual, there have been bright spots as final versions of bills come out of committee.
One such measure, House Bill 817, is certainly a bright spot for our children who are eligible for Pre-K schools. A conference report enacting House Bill 817 has been passed by the House of Representatives, overwhelmingly and now, awaits Senate action.
Several years ago, we established what is known as Pre-K collaboration. This means that if a school district agrees to offer this early education opportunity, the state will help subsidize the expense for Pre-K entities.
In order to maintain this most important education opportunity for children, HB 817 provides a needed 16 percent-plus increase in the minimum funding levels for each student enrolled in full-day early learning collaborative programs to $2,500 and half-day early learning collaborative programs to $1,250. We hope that these changes will encourage and enable other school districts to apply to join the early learning collaboratives. I am pleased, as well, that East and West Tallahatchie, Grenada and Oxford school districts currently participate in this program.
Education specialists will tell you that the bulk of the children’s learning capacity is developed during the Pre-K period of their lives. In 1982, Mississippi passed mandated kindergarten as part of the Education Reform Act. I was part of the group that pushed that measure across the finish line, and I must say it created a new day for Mississippi’s public school students.
The current system that allows parents to enroll their children in close-by programs, interacting with children they know, has proven to be beneficial for children and families.
It is especially important that these young ones are better prepared to succeed in kindergarten and throughout their educational journeys because they had a solid foundation when they needed it most.
All of us were shocked and saddened at the devastation that happened late Friday night, March 24, when an F-4 tornado tore across Mississippi from Rolling Fork to Amory. I invited the Rev. Chris Cumbest of Wells United Methodist Church to offer prayer as we began Saturday’s session. There will be strong support among Legislators for special appropriations to help the victims of this storm repair their lives.
As I prepare to close out my 44th session representing you as a member of the Mississippi House, I am most grateful to you for entrusting me with the honor of serving you. My goal from 1980 has always been to leave the State of Mississippi better than I found it – for you and our coming generations. I hope I have achieved that goal.
If I can be of service to you, please call on me. My residence address is 1720 North Main, Water Valley, MS 38965 and my office address is P. O. Drawer 280, Charleston, MS 38921. My email address is email@example.com.