By Micayla Tatum I Director of Early Childhood Policy
After four legislative sessions, we are excited to announce that our bill to permanently raise the per-pupil funding rate, HB 817, passed! The Governor signed the bill into law on April 17. This bill increases the state share of per-pupil pre-K funds from $2,150 to a minimum of $2,500 per child – an increase of $350 per child in state funds or about $7,000 per classroom of 20. With this increase, the state has guaranteed that each state-funded pre-K classroom will have the necessary funds to provide nationally recognized, high-quality pre-K just in time to celebrate ten years of early learning collaboratives on the anniversary of passage of the act.
We have been trying to pass this language into law since 2020, but due to the pandemic and unrelated politics, the bill has died in the past three legislative sessions. Each year we had to ask the legislature to increase the per-pupil funding rate in the education budget, but with HB 817, we have ensured that collaboratives will have the necessary funds to operate. In the future, we can raise the per-pupil amount solely in the budget without having to worry about conflicting enacting language!
In addition to permanently raising the rate, the legislature continued its commitment to pre-K by level-funding the collaboratives with a $24M appropriation and $3.25M appropriation for pre-K coaches. The budget remaining the same from the 2022 legislative session allows us to continue recruiting communities to help us achieve our goal of reaching 25% of four-year-olds in Mississippi.
This work could not be done without our champions! We are grateful for their dedication to Mississippi’s four-year-olds. Governor Reeves, Lt. Governor Hosemann, Chairman Bennett, Chairman DeBar, Representative McCarty, and Education Advisor Leah Smith, we thank you!