TPSD pre-K will accept tuition students

By Chris Kieffer/NEMS Daily Journal

TUPELO – Forty parents can ensure a spot for their children in the Tupelo Public School District’s school for 4-year-olds by paying tuition.
The Early Childhood Education Center currently serves about 250 students. About 220 of those are for prekindergarten, and the other 30 are for two classes for children with developmental disabilities. The center is about half the size of a kindergarten class in the district.
“We’ve proven this year that we have an excellent program to offer parents,” TPSD Superintendent Randy Shaver said. “Not only do the students get great care, but they get a strong academic foundation with active teachers who prepare them for school.”
Beginning next school year, the school will take 40 tuition students. To enroll in the program, students must take an academic assessment.
Priority is given to students with the greatest academic need who live in Tupelo. However, now the first 40 parents to pay the tuition can guarantee their child a spot at the center regardless of academic need.
Tuition will be $5,250 a year or $2,625 a semester. It will cover a full school day from 7:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. five days a week during the academic year.
The TPSD school board voted last week to accept the tuition students in order to be able to keep its current staff of 11 teachers and 11 teacher assistants next year. The school added two classes this year with federal stimulus funding it had received. It will not have that same funding available next year.
“The two classes were so successful, and there was such a high demand for all these classes, but we won’t have the same amount of funding next year,” said Dale Warriner, TPSD director of Federal Programs.
The cost of tuition was set to pay the salaries of two highly-qualified licensed teachers and two qualified assistants. A highly-qualified teacher is one with a Mississippi teacher’s license. Qualified assistants must have a minimum of two years of college.
Enrollment is currently open, and it is first-come, first-served. Spots won’t be reserved until payment is received. Parents can pay by the year or by the semester. There will be a waiting list if spots are filled.
The school also used stimulus money this year to fund a full-time art teacher, a visual motion teacher and an extended day program. That stimulus money also is not available next year and the status of those teachers and the extended day program depends upon other funding.
Contact Chris Kieffer at (662) 678-1590 or at chris.kieffer@djournal.com.