Mississippi First will be working with partners, collaboratives, and legislators during the 2020 legislative session to raise the pre-K funding rate from $4,300 to $5,000 per child for early learning collaborative students. Because the cost of the state-funded pre-K program is shared between the state and local programs, the state would pay an additional $350 per child while the local programs would provide the other half. These additional funds will ensure that early learning collaboratives have the resources to meet Mississippi’s high standards and allow the state to expand the program using a fair per-pupil cost.

Raising the rate to $5,000 per child will…

  • Give the collaborative programs the best chance of success.

A quality classroom in Mississippi costs $100,000–which doesn’t include any administrative costs. The current per-child cost only provides enough resources for each classroom to receive $86,000. Collaborative must either raise more money than their fair share or look for ways to cut costs, and that pressure may eventually lead to cutting corners on quality.

  • Accurately account for the true cost of expansion.

The legislature has expanded state-funded pre-K three times since 2013, but none of these expansions considered the issue of the per-child cost. If the program continues to grow without raising the rate, the program is at risk of declining in quality, as it will become harder for future programs to “over-match.” 

  • Keep our promise of fairness.

In the pre-K law, the state promised to pay half the cost per child for a program meeting the state’s high standards. We now know that the total cost per child in the law, $4,300, is too low. The state needs to keep its promise to pay 50% by raising the rate to $5,000 so that they state and collaborative both contribute $2,500 per child.