Mississippi is the only Southern state without a state-supported pre-K program. That's according to a recent report by the Southern Education Foundation.
Petal School District superintendent James Hutto said Mississippi as a state is doing a very poor job of supporting pre-K education.
A fledgling attempt was made by state Superintendent of Education Hank Bounds to launch a $10 million pre-K program. It was rejected this spring by Gov. Haley Barbour, who submitted an alternate proposal to the Mississippi Legislature, to designate $5 million in grant money that would be available to public and private entities for early childhood education and care. It was rejected by lawmakers.
Hutto said Petal, like some other local districts, including Meridian Public Schools, has crafted its own pre-K program through the judicious use of grant money.
Overall, the report says the South leads the nation in pre-kindergarten education.