TPSD early ed gets $100,000 boost

TUPELO – The Tupelo School District’s program for 4-year-old students will maintain last year’s enrollment, thanks to a private fundraising campaign.
The program once again will have 11 classes with 220 students housed at the Early Childhood Education Center. It was in danger of losing two classes and 40 student spots because of a reduction of federal stimulus funds.
At Tuesday’s school board meeting, the board accepted a $100,000 donation from the private Committee of 200.
TPSD Director of Federal Programs Dale Warriner said the money, plus additional federal Title 1 money that the district recently received, will allow it to keep that program at its current size.
“I think it speaks directly to what the ‘Tupelo Spirit’ is all about,” said Tupelo Superintendent Randy Shaver. “I’m absolutely thrilled with that response in such a short period of time.”
The Committee of 200 was formed during the spring to keep the four-year-old program from shrinking its enrollment.
“This is the first time in Tupelo that any local funds have been directly allocated for pre-K education,” said Harry Rayburn, co-chairman of the committee. “This will set a precedent not only in Tupelo, but across the state and across the Southeast.”
Warriner said the program still has spots available for students. Parents can download a registration form from the Tupelo schools website and turn it in at the Early Childhood Education Center along with a birth certificate, immunization records and two proofs of residency.
Previously, the district’s academic program for 4-year-olds was funded entirely by federal money. The district faced cuts in the program this year because $329,000 in one-time stimulus money received in 2009 was not renewed this year.
In addition to the money raised by the committee, the district learned that it will receive an additional $449,773 in Title 1 money this year. Of that money, $100,000 will be used for the Early Childhood Education Center.
Contact Chris Kieffer at (662) 678-1590 or chris.kieffer@djournal.com.

Chris Kieffer/NEMS Daily Journal