COMMITTEE AMENDMENT NO 1 PROPOSED TO
Senate Bill No. 2395
Amend by striking all after the enacting clause and inserting in lieu thereof the following:
SECTION 1. Section 37-21-51, Mississippi Code of 1972, is amended as follows:
37-21-51. (1) As used in * * *
Section 37-21-51 * * * :
(a) "Preschool or prekindergarten children" means any children who have not entered kindergarten but will have obtained four (4) years of age on or before September 1 of a school year.
(b) An "early learning collaborative council" is a district or countywide council that writes and submits an application to participate in the voluntary prekindergarten program. An early learning collaborative council is comprised, at a minimum, of a public school district and one or more licensed child care centers. Agencies or other organizations that work with young children and their families may also participate in the council to provide resources and coordination even if those agencies or organizations are not prekindergarten providers.
(c) A "prekindergarten provider" is a licensed childcare center that serves prekindergarten children and participates in the voluntary prekindergarten program.
(d) A "lead partner" is a public school district or other nonprofit entity with the instructional expertise and operational capacity to manage the early learning collaborative council's prekindergarten program as described in the collaborative's approved application. The early learning collaborative council serves as the fiscal agent for the prekindergarten program in the council's geographic catchment area and will disburse awarded amounts according to the council's application. The lead partner must facilitate a professional learning community for the teachers in the prekindergarten program, and lead the collaborative council. The lead partner ensures that the collaborative council adopts curriculum and assessments that align with state standards. The lead partner also guarantees that the curriculum and assessments are used uniformly across the collaborative.
(e) "Comprehensive early learning standards" are standards adopted by the State Board of Education that address the fundamental domains of early learning identified to include, but not be limited to, physical well-being and motor development, social/emotional development, approaches toward learning, language development and cognition and general knowledge. The comprehensive early learning standards shall also include standards for emergent literacy skills, including oral communication, knowledge of print and letters, phonological and phonemic awareness, and vocabulary and comprehension development.
(f) A "research-based curriculum" is an age-appropriate curriculum that not only is based on the findings of current research and has been found to be effective in improving student learning based on the results of rigorous evaluations.
(2) To ensure that all children have access to quality early childhood education and development services, the Legislature finds and declares the following:
(a) Parents have the primary duty to educate their young preschool children;
(b) The State of Mississippi can assist and educate parents in their role as the primary caregivers and educators of young preschool children; and
(c) There is a need to explore innovative approaches and strategies for aiding parents and families in the education and development of young preschool children.
(3) (a) This subsection
shall be known and may be cited as the "Early Learning * * *
Act of * * * 2013."
(b) Effective with
the 2013-2014 school year, the Mississippi State Department of * * *
Education shall * * * establish a voluntary * * * prekindergarten
program, which shall be a collaboration among the entities providing
prekindergarten programs including Head Start, licensed child care facilities
and licensed public, parochial and private school prekindergarten programs. * * * This program shall be implemented no later than the
2014-2015 school year. Under this program, eligible entities may submit an
application for funds to (i) defray the cost of additional and/or more
qualified teaching staff, appropriate educational materials and equipment
and to improve the quality of educational experiences offered to four-year-old
children in * * * early care and education programs, and/or to (ii) extend
developmentally appropriate education services at such * * * programs currently serving
four-year-old children to include practices of high quality instruction, and to
(iii) administer, implement, monitor and evaluate the programs. * * *
(c) Subject to the
availability of funds appropriated therefor, or the availability of funds from
any Early Care and Education Fund established by the Legislature in the 2013
Session, the State Department of * * *
Education shall * * * administer the implementation,
monitoring and evaluation of the voluntary prekindergarten program, including
awards and the application process.
(i) The department shall establish a rigorous and transparent application process for the awarding of funds. Lead partners shall submit the applications on behalf of their early learning collaborative.
(ii) The department will establish monitoring policies and procedures that, at a minimum, will include at least one (1) site visit a year.
(iii) The department will provide technical assistance to collaboratives and their providers to improve the quality of prekindergarten programs.
(iv) The department will evaluate the effectiveness of each early childhood collaborative and each prekindergarten provider. If the State Department of Education adopts a statewide kindergarten screening that assesses the readiness of each student for kindergarten, the State Department of Education shall adopt a minimum rate of readiness that each prekindergarten provider must meet in order to remain eligible for prekindergarten program funds. Each parent who enrolls his or her child in the prekindergarten program must submit the child for the statewide kindergarten screening, regardless of whether the child is admitted to kindergarten in a public school.
(d) The * * *
program * * *
funds shall be awarded to * * * early childhood
learning collaboratives whose proposed programs meet the program
criteria. The criteria * * * must include all conditions prescribed in paragraph (c), andshall
include, but not be limited to:
Voluntary enrollment of children; * * *
(ii) Collaboration with prekindergarten providers and other early childhood programs through the establishment of an early learning collaborative council;
(iii) Qualifications of master teachers, teachers and assistants, which must conform to guidelines in Section 37-21-3;
(iv) The use of state-adopted comprehensive early learning standards;
(v) The use of a research-based curriculum that is designed to prepare students to be ready for kindergarten, with emphasis in early literacy, and is aligned with the comprehensive early learning standards;
(vi) The use of age-appropriate assessments aligned to the comprehensive early learning standards;
(vii) Plans to screen and/or refer children for vision, hearing and other health issues;
(viii) Parent involvement opportunities;
(ix) Plans to serve children with disabilities as indicated under IDEA;
(x) A budget detailing the use of funds for allowed expenses; and
(xi) The number of instructional hours to be provided, which shall equal no less than five hundred forty (540) hours per school year for half-day programs and one thousand eighty (1,080) instructional hours per school year for full-day programs.
Participating childcare centers shall meet state child care facility licensure requirements and each local childhood collaborative council applying for funding shall select a nationally recognized assessment tool designed to document child learning outcomes, which shall be the only additional measure of program quality allowable under the provisions of this act.
Within the prekindergarten program, a prekindergarten provider must comply with the antidiscrimination requirements applicable to public schools. A prekindergarten provider may not discriminate against a parent or child, including the refusal to admit a child for enrollment in the prekindergarten program, in violation of these antidiscrimination requirements. However, a prekindergarten provider may refuse to admit a child based on the provider's standard eligibility guidelines, provided that these guidelines do not violate the antidiscrimination requirements.
Consistent with the Legislature's recognition of the primacy of a parent's roll in the education of a preschool-age child and the related recognition of the state in assisting and educating parents in that role, if the State Department of Education adopts a statewide kindergarten screening that assesses the readiness of each student for kindergarten, the State Department of Education shall recognize each child's unique pattern of development when adopting a minimum rate of readiness that prekindergarten providers must meet in order to remain eligible for prekindergarten program funds. Each parent who enrolls his or her child in the prekindergarten program may submit the child for the statewide kindergarten screening, regardless of whether the child is admitted to kindergarten in a public school.
The State Department of Education may add program criteria not inconsistent with these requirements and shall develop policies and procedures to implement and enforce these criteria.
(e) The State Department of Education shall ensure that early learning collaborative councils provide each parent enrolling a child in the voluntary prekindergarten program with a profile of every prekindergarten provider participating in the council's geographic catchment area. The State Department of Education shall prescribe the information to be included in each profile as well as the format of the profiles. At a minimum, the profiles must include the prekindergarten provider's services, curriculum, instructor credentials and instructor-to-student ratio.
* * *
( * * *
f) * * * A teacher, assistant teacher or
other employee whose salary and fringe benefits are paid from * * * state funds
under this act shall * * * only be * * * classified as a state or
local school district * * * employee * * * eligible for state
health insurance benefits or membership in the Public Employees' Retirement
System, if the person's employer is already an agency or instrumentality of
the state, such as a school district, and the employee would be eligible for
such benefits in the normal course of business. .
( * * *
g) * * * Funding shall be provided * * * for this program
beginning with the * * * 2015 fiscal year subject to appropriation by the
Legislature as provided in paragraph (g) of this subsection. The
department shall make an annual report to the Legislature and the Governor regarding
the effectiveness of the program. The PEER Committee shall review those
reports and other program data and submit an independent evaluation of program
operation and effectiveness to the Legislature and the Governor on or before
October 1 of the calendar year before the beginning of the next phased-in
period of funding.
( * * *
h) (i) The Legislature shall
appropriate funds to implement the Early Education Act of 2013 on a phased-in
basis with the first phase based on a state appropriation of not less than Two
Million Dollars ($2,000,000.00).
(ii) Future phases shall be based on interest in the program and the effectiveness of the program. Each phase shall last for at least three (3) years but no more than five (5) years. Funding will be provided to early learning collaborative councils on the basis of Two Thousand Dollars ($2,000.00) per student proposed in the council's application for funding.
(iii) Funding will be provided to early learning collaboratives on the basis of Two Thousand One Hundred Fifty Dollars ($2,150.00) per student in a full-day program and One Thousand Seventy-five Dollars ($1,075.00) per student in a half-day program proposed in the collaborative's approved application. Once an early learning collaborative's plan is approved and funded, the collaborative and/or its prekindergarten providers shall receive funds on an ongoing basis unless the collaborative and/or its prekindergarten providers no longer meet the criteria to participate in the program.
(iv) Early learning collaborative councils shall match state funds on a 1:1 basis. Local matching funds may include local tax dollars, federal program dollars, parent tuition, philanthropic contributions, or in-kind donations of facilities, equipment and services required as part of the program such as food service or health screenings.
(v) The State Department of Education shall reserve no more than five percent (5%) of the appropriation in any year for administrative costs. Funds remaining after awards to early learning collaboratives and the department's administrative needs are met may be carried over in the following year.
(vi) In the initial phase of implementation, the State Department of Education shall award state funds under the Early Learning Collaborative Act of 2013 only to sites with evidence of existing strong local collaborations of early education stakeholders interested in the improvement of prekindergarten options. Such evidence may include collaborations resulting from participation in Excel By 5, Supporting Partnerships to Assure Ready Kids (SPARK), the Gilmore Early Learning Initiative (GELI), or other similar community-wide collaboration efforts. Partnerships between local collaborations or their stakeholders and other capacity-building programs such as Mississippi Building Blocks or the Mississippi Department of Human Services' Allies for Quality Care may be considered as evidence of a local collaboration's commitment to prekindergarten and the improvement of local options. In determining community need, the department shall consider low academic achievement within the public school districts participating in an applicant early learning collaborative and the number and percentage of children without quality prekindergarten options.
(vii) All authority granted to the State Department of Education to establish program rules is subject to the public processes established in the provisions of the Mississippi Administrative Procedures Law, including, but not limited to, filing notice of the proposed rules, public hearings and any economic impact statement with the Office of the Secretary of State before presenting such information to the State Board of Education for final approval.
SECTION 2. Section 37-21-53, Mississippi Code of 1972, is amended as follows:
37-21-53. (1) The * * *
State Early Childhood Advisory Council (SECAC) is created for the
(a) To assist the State Department of Education with the implementation of the Early Learning Act of 2013;
(b) To ensure
coordination among the various agencies and programs serving preschool children
in order to support school district's efforts to achieve the goal of readiness
to start school * * *
facilitate communication, cooperation and maximum use of resources and to
promote high standards for all programs serving preschool children and their
families in Mississippi * * *
(d) To serve as the designated council for early childhood education and care pursuant to federal Public Law 110-134.
(2) The membership of the * * *
State Early Childhood Advisory Council
(SECAC) in accordance with Public Law 110-134, shall include, to the extent
(a) * * *
representative of the Mississippi Department of Human Services;
(b) * * *
A representative of the Mississippi Department of Education;
(c) * * *
A representative of local educational agencies;
(d) * * *
A representative of Mississippi Institutions of Higher
(e) * * *
A representative of local providers of early
childhood education and care services from each congressional district;
( * * *
f) * * * The Part C Coordinator and/or the
Section 619 Coordinator of programs under the Individuals with Disabilities
Education Act (20 USC 1419, 1431 et seq.);
( * * *
g) * * * A representative of the Mississippi Department of
(h) A representative of the Mississippi Department of Mental Health;
(i) Representatives of other entities deemed relevant by the Governor;
(j) A representative of the Mississippi Head Start Association.
However, no individual who is presently receiving state grant funds, with the exception of child care certificates, as it relates to early childhood education, or receiving any pecuniary benefit from any organization or entity prescribed in this subsection shall be eligible to serve on the State Early Childhood Advisory Council. For purposes of this paragraph "child care certificate" means a certificate that is issued by the state or local government under the authority of 42 USCS Section 9858 et seq. directly to a parent who may use the certificate only as payment for child care services.
(3) The council shall meet
upon call of the Governor * * *
before August 1, 2000, and shall organize for business by
selecting a chairman, who shall serve for a one-year term and may be selected
for subsequent terms. The council shall adopt internal organizational
procedures necessary for efficient operation of the council. Council procedures
must include duties of officers, a process for selecting officers, quorum
requirements for conducting business and policies for any council staff. Each
member of the council shall designate necessary staff of their departments to
assist the council in performing its duties and responsibilities. The council
shall meet and conduct business at least twice annually. Meetings of the
council must be open to the public, and opportunity for public comment must be
made available at each meeting. The chairman of the council shall notify all
persons who request such notice as to the date, time and place of each meeting.
(4) The * * *
State Early Childhood Advisory Council (SECAC) shall perform each of the
(a) * * *
Build on the existing early
care and education system and to develop a strong infrastructure supporting
collaboration, coordination and equitable access to quality services and
(b) * * *
Carry out the duties and functions specified in
Public Law 110-134, including:
(i) Periodically conducting a statewide needs assessment concerning the quality and availability of early childhood education and development programs and services for children from birth to school entry, including assessing the availability of high-quality prekindergarten services for low-income children in Mississippi;
(ii) Identifying opportunities for, and barriers to, collaboration and coordination among state-funded child development, child care, and early childhood education programs and services, including collaboration and coordination among state agencies responsible for administering such programs;
(iii) Developing recommendations for increasing the overall participation of children in existing state and local child care and early childhood education programs, including outreach to underrepresented and special populations;
(iv) Developing recommendations regarding the establishment of a unified data collection system for early childhood education and development programs and services throughout Mississippi;
(v) Developing recommendations regarding statewide professional development and career advancement plans for early childhood educators in Mississippi;
(vi) Assess the capacity and effectiveness of two- and four-year public and private institutions of higher education in Mississippi toward supporting the development of early childhood educators, including the extent to which such institutions have in place articulation agreements, professional development and career advancement plans, and practice or internships for students to spend time in a prekindergarten program; and
(vii) Make recommendations for improvements in the State Early Learning Guidelines and undertake efforts to develop high quality comprehensive early learning standards, as appropriate;
(c) * * *
Hold public hearings and/or provide
opportunities for public comment on the activities described above in
accordance with Public Law 110-134;
(d) * * *
a statewide strategic report addressing council activities to the Governor, in
accordance with Public Law 110-134; and
(e) * * *
Meet periodically to review the implementation of recommendations contained in the statewide strategic report and to address any changes in state and local needs, in accordance with Public Law 110-134.
* * *
SECTION 3. Section 37-21-3, Mississippi Code of 1972, is amended as follows:
37-21-3. No person shall
act in the capacity of master teacher, teacher or assistant
teacher * * *
in any federal or state-funded program of early
childhood education * * * or perform any of the functions, duties or powers
of the same, unless that person shall be qualified in the following manner:
(a) A * * *
master teacher or any other
employee or consultant receiving a salary or fee equivalent to that of a * * * master teacher * * * shall * * * meet
the qualifications of a teacher in this section and have demonstrated
effectiveness as an early childhood educator.
(b) A teacher shall
possess a * * *
degree in early childhood education, child development, or an equivalent
field. Teachers in the state prekindergarten program who are employed by
public school districts may also be required to hold a state teaching license
in early childhood education or equivalent field.
(c) An assistant
teacher shall possess * * *
an associate's degree in
early childhood education, child development, or an equivalent field; or an
associate's degree in any field and a child development associate credential, a
Montessori certification, or an equivalent certification. Assistant teachers
in the state prekindergarten program who are employed by public school
districts may be required to meet the definition of a highly qualified
paraprofessional in addition to these requirements.
* * *
The State Department of Education shall adopt any necessary rules, policies or procedures to implement this section.
SECTION 4. Section 37-21-5, Mississippi Code of 1972, is amended as follows:
37-21-5. The * * *
Department of Education of the State of Mississippi is vested with the
authority to enforce the provisions of Sections 37-21-1 through 37-21-5. The * * * department shall have the
authority to make investigations and to require such proof of qualification as
may be necessary for the enforcement of Sections 37-21-1 through 37-21-5. * * *
SECTION 5. Section 37-21-55, Mississippi Code of 1972, which establishes the Early Childhood Services Advisory Committee, is hereby repealed.
SECTION 6. This act shall take effect and be in force from and after July 1, 2013.
Further, amend by striking the title in its entirety and inserting in lieu thereof the following:
AN ACT TO AMEND SECTION 37-21-51, MISSISSIPPI CODE OF 1972, TO AUTHORIZE AND DIRECT THE STATE DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION TO IMPLEMENT A PREKINDERGARTEN PROGRAM IN THE STATE OF MISSISSIPPI ON A PHASED-IN SCHOLARSHIP BASIS; TO TRANSFER THE DUTIES AND RESPONSIBILITIES OF THE DEPARTMENT OF HUMAN SERVICES RELATIVE TO THE "EARLY LEARNING COLLABORATIVE ACT OF 2013" TO THE STATE DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION, TO REDESIGNATE THE PREKINDERGARTEN PROGRAM AS THE "EARLY LEARNING ACT OF 2013," TO COMMIT FUNDING OF THE "EARLY LEARNING COLLABORATIVE ACT OF 2013" ON A PHASED-IN BASIS, AND TO PROVIDE THAT MANDATORY PREKINDERGARTEN PROGRAMS SHALL FIRST BE PROVIDED IN UNDERPERFORMING SCHOOL DISTRICTS; TO AMEND SECTION 37-21-53, MISSISSIPPI CODE OF 1972, TO DESIGNATE AND EMPOWER THE STATE EARLY CHILDHOOD ADVISORY COUNCIL (SECAC) AND PRESCRIBE ITS RESPONSIBILITIES TO ASSIST THE STATE DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION IN IMPLEMENTING THE "EARLY LEARNING ACT OF 2013" PURSUANT TO FEDERAL LAW; TO AMEND SECTIONS 37-21-3 AND 37-21-5, MISSISSIPPI CODE OF 1972, TO PROVIDE QUALIFICATIONS FOR CERTAIN EDUCATION PERSONNEL; TO REPEAL SECTION 37-21-55, MISSISSIPPI CODE OF 1972, WHICH ESTABLISHES THE EARLY CHILDHOOD SERVICES ADVISORY COMMITTEE; AND FOR RELATED PURPOSES.