Almost 200 students strong, the pre-kindergarten program for the Meridian Public School District is growing by leaps and bounds. However, perhaps none more so than in its newest initiative, which involves partnering with the Meridian Housing Authority and offering classes at public housing units.
"The services are right in their own homes and the children can walk to the pre-k class and they just have better access getting to and from the schools. The attendance is better," says Gretchen Luvene, who is the pre-k parent liaison for the Meridian Public School District.
Also, according to organizers, so are the test scores of those who take part in pre-k programs.
"I have noticed that they excel better as far as their grades and we have more of the pre-k students attending the talented and gifted program and we have less of these students attending the special education program," says MPS pre-k coordinator, Reola Daniels.
With a focus on developing good language and cognitive skills now, organizers say studies have shown that the main benefits will show up later.
"Their reading test scores are going to be better. They're math test scores are going to be better and that's our aim to make sure that we touch them," says Daniels.
With a waiting list for students wanting to get in the district's pre-k program, it's evident that it's already touching many and organizers say they hope to expand even more. However, with a lack of available space at school sites now, they say this is creating a problem.
In the meantime, Daniels says the district is in talks with the Meridian Housing Authority about adding even more classes at its housing units.