UPDATE on 7/2/2020 at 11:00 AM CST:

We are thrilled beyond measure to share with you that the Legislature decided to raise the per-pupil funding rate for collaboratives from $2,150 to $2,500. A classroom of 20 will now have $100K, as we have advocated. In this extremely difficult budget year, this is a tremendous sign of recognition of the hard work our Early Learning Collaboratives do.

The rate change was made directly in the budget bill, as the actual legislation, SB2286, got bogged down with some last-minute politics wholly unrelated to pre-K. This means that we will need the Legislature to finish the job next year to make the rate increase permanent. Nonetheless, this is a huge win!

We had some great champions at the Capitol that helped make this happen. Here’s the short list of people to thank, if you can:

  • Education Chairmen Richard Bennett (House) and Dennis DeBar (Senate)
  • Senator Brice Wiggins
  • Representative Kent McCarty
  • Representative Missy McGee
  • Holly Spivey, Education Advisor to Governor Reeves
  • Lt. Gov. HosemannLeah Smith, advisor to Lt. Gov. Hosemann
  • Speaker Philip Gunn
  • Legislative Black Caucus members 

UPDATE on 6/23/2020 at 8:30 AM CST:

The good news is that the pre-K bill is still alive. It passed through the House Education and Appropriations committees with something called a “reverse repealer”–essentially a provision for the bill to repeal a day before the effective date to force it to conference. Our House champions felt this was necessary to keep the bill going, as the budget is still being worked out and the bill requires funding. However, on the day the bill had to pass the House or die for the session, the House adopted a “strike-all” amendment into the bill. A strike-all is an amendment that takes all of the content of a bill out and replaces it. Usually, this is used to replace a bill with another house’s version of the same bill, but it can also be used to replace a bill with a completely different bill that may have died already. That is what happened to the pre-K bill. The strike-all amendment replaced the pre-K bill with a community schools bill that died previously. Once the bill passed as amended, it was sent to the Senate for concurrence.

If the Senate does not invite the bill to conference, the bill will die. If the Senate invites the bill to conference and the House and Senate successfully negotiate, then the conferees will approve a conference report that includes the final version of the bill. Hopefully, if this happens, the conference report will reflect the original intent of the pre-K bill, even if other language on additional topics is added. Any conference report must be approved by both houses before the session adjourns. If the good news is that the bill is still alive, the bad news is that we are rapidly running out of time. Although the legislature technically has until Friday, July 10, to come to an agreement, the rumor is that the legislature intends to conclude business as early as Friday.

UPDATE on 6/9/20 at 3:15 PM CST: The Pre-K Bill (SB 2286) made it out of the House Appropriations Committee this afternoon with a reverse repealer. This means once Appropriations voted yes, the bill had to then go back to the Education Committee today. The Education Committee again voted yes this afternoon which means the bill will now be brought to the House floor for a full vote. This vote has to take place by June 17, 2020.

UPDATE on 6/26/20 at 10:30 AM CST: On June 1, SB 2286 (pre-K bill) passed out of the House Education Committee. It now heads to the House Appropriations Committee for its next vote. SB 2286 will raise the per-pupil funding rate, while at the same time supporting Mississippi’s goal of maintaining quality.

UPDATE: In March, 47 Senators said yes to SB 2286 and now the bill has been sent to the House.

UPDATE on 2/25/20 at 1:51 PM CST: The committee substitute sent from Senate Ed passed the Senate Appropriations Committee with no amendments. It will now be listed on the Senate Calendar for consideration by the full Senate. Read the committee substitute.

Status

Senator Brice Wiggins and Education Chair Senator Dennis Debar, Jr. filed the Senate pre-K bill, SB2286, a couple of weeks ago. Last week, the Senate Education Committee passed the bill with two technical amendments. Technical amendments are fixes to the language in the bill in order to make sure the language is correct before it reaches the next phase in the life cycle of the bill.

Because the bill was double-referred, it must now pass the Senate Appropriations Committee before it can head to the Senate Calendar for a floor vote. (It is customary for bills with appropriations implications to get double-referred to an issue-based committee and the Appropriations Committee, e.g., Education and Appropriations.) If the bill passes the Senate floor, it will be sent to the House for further consideration.

Details about Senate Bill 2286

SB 2286 will raise the per-pupil funding rate, while at the same time supporting Mississippi’s goal of maintaining quality. 

Currently, the guaranteed per-pupil rate for each state-funded pre-K student is $4,300. Of this amount, half—or $2,150—is paid by the state while the other half is raised by the local collaborative. Now that the program is over six years old, Mississippi First has been able to use historical data to determine how much a quality pre-K classroom in a collaborative may actually cost. Those calculations determined that a classroom will cost approximately $100,000, assuming no additional overhead costs, such as a pre-K coordinator for each program. With class sizes capped at 20, per-pupil revenue needs to be at least $5,000 per child in order to cover the costs. As a result, collaboratives have been raising more money than the required $2,150 per child, which we refer to as “over-matching.” 

SB2286 would equalize the funding burden between the state and collaboratives by re-setting the per-pupil rate to $5,000, so that both the state and the collaborative pay $2,500. This additional cost to the state of $350 per child has an overall price tag of $1.09M over the current funding level of $6.7M.

The Early Learning Collaborative Act of 2013 required Mississippi’s program to meet 10 of the 10 benchmarks for state-funded pre-K programs as published in 2013 by the National Institute for Early Education Research (NIEER). This requirement made Mississippi’s program one of the top five programs in the nation in terms of the quality of its program standards—a special accomplishment for any Mississippi education program. In the spring of 2017, NIEER announced its first overhaul of the benchmarks in 15 years to respond to the changing research landscape. This overhaul replaced one benchmark and changed two others. As a result, Mississippi’s law now only requires that the program meet 8 of the 10 new benchmarks. The tweaks in SB2286 will help Mississippi get back to 10 of 10 in our legislation. The bill also contains some other small tweaks, notably language to prioritize using a curriculum with the strongest available evidence base.

Read the whole bill here: http://billstatus.ls.state.ms.us/2020/pdf/history/SB/SB2286.xml.

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