State-Funded Preschool Gathers Support

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Top Mississippi leaders are endorsing a plan that would have the state government fund 4-year-old preschool for the first time.

Lt. Gov Tate Reeves and House Speaker Philip Gunn held a news conference Wednesday to promote the plan. Gov. Phil Bryant released a statement endorsing it.

Bills in the House and Senate call for creating local groups including public school districts, Head Start programs and private child care facilities.

The groups would apply to the state Department of Education for money to pay for teaching 4-year-olds in schools meeting certain standards.

The state would put up half the money, and local groups would raise the rest through private donations subsidized by tax credits, federal money and other funds.

The state would spend $8 million the first year, serving 3,500 children.