HB 781, the House version of the “Early Learning Collaborative Act of 2013,” was just passed by the House of Representatives. The original bill was slightly different from the Senate version, most notably the smaller amount of funding.
Although the debate on the bill was relatively short, the bill was passed with some significant amendments. These amendments…
- Remove the tax credit for individuals and corporations that make contributions to a state fund that can defray the costs of the “local match.” In both the House and Senate bills, the collaborative pre-K allocation is $2150 a child from the state with a 1:1 local match (meaning an additional $2150 per child would come from a local match for a total of $4300 per child for a full-day program). The local match can be made through donations, local tax revenue, federal dollars, parent tuition, or an in-kind donation (most likely facilities),
- Remove the requirement for private child care centers to earn a “3-star rating” on the state quality rating system. Instead, the collaborative would rely exclusively on a “nationally-recognized assessment tool” to evaluate child care centers
- Make any state-adopted kindergarten-entry screening assessment voluntary for children whose parents have voluntarily chosen to send their child to preK. It also directs MDE to “recognize each child’s unique pattern of development when adopting a minimum rate of readiness that prekindergarten providers must meet in order to remain eligible for prekindergarten program funds”,
- Require that the annual report MDE sends to “the Legislature and Governor regarding the effectiveness of the program” shall also be sent to Legislature’s Performance Evaluation and Expenditure Review (PEER) Committee. PEER would then submit “an independent evaluation of the program operation and effectiveness”,
- Require MDE to comply with the Mississippi Administrative Procedures Law (specifically, provisions on filing notice of the proposed rules, public hearings, and economic impact statements) before the collaborative pre-K program rules and procedures are approved by the State Board of Education,
- Change the composition of the State Early Childhood Advisory Council (SECAC) by increasing the number of representatives of “local providers of early childhood education and care services” from 1 to 4 (one from each congressional district) and by adding a representative from the Mississippi Head Start Association, and…
- Prohibit from SECAC membership organizations and individuals that have ever received a financial benefit (grant, donation, or other pecuniary benefit) from any state agency (State Departments of Education, Health, Human Services, Mental Health, or Higher Learning) or other organization/entity represented on the council.
Because of the differences between the House and Senate pre-K bills, a compromise bill will have to be negotiated in a Conference Committee. The final bill created by that committee will then need to be approved by both chambers before (hopefully) the Governor signs it into law.
For all things pre-K, please visit our Pre-Kindergarten Resource Page.