Pascagoula School District prepares to educate 4-year-olds

PASCAGOULA, MS (WLOX) - As the debate heats up at the state capitol on whether to use state money to pay for Pre-K education, Pascagoula's School District is moving forward with plans to start its own pilot Pre-K program for the next school year.

Early registration signs are now up outside at College Park Elementary to announce the district's first ever Pre-Kindergarten classes. Principal Suzanne Ros couldn't be more excited about adding four-year-olds to the school's roster next year.

"We feel by working with them earlier, we can accomplish so much more with them and for them," Ros said.

Currently, the district participates in Pre-K Launch Pad, where kids gather twice a month to learn. The new Pre-K classroom program will be five days a week.

"They will start school at 7:30 in the morning and they will stay to 2:45, Monday through Friday, with a certified teacher and assistant teacher in those classrooms," Assistant Superintendent Belinda Dammen said.

District officials said it won't be all fun and games for these students. The Pre-K group will also be learning cognitive, motor and socialization skills.

"You want the child to have the 50 percent of his or her cognitive intelligence by the time they turn four years old. The other 30 percent they get by the time they turn 18, and the last 20 percent they get by the time they turn 26," Dr. Connie Joe Williams said. "We are missing the boat on early childhood education, but Pascagoula has answered the prayer."

For the first year, the district will only have four Pre-K classes with the goal of eventually expanding.

"The state is looking at early childhood. It has become the new buzz in Mississippi, and we are very excited about that. Kindergarten is not mandatory in the State of Mississippi, so it is very important children get education at an early age," Dammen said.

Registration begins Friday. For more information, call (228) 938-6500.

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