Picayune Early Head Start awarded $10 million grant

The Picayune School Board of Trustees received some great news during Tuesday’s meeting for the community in announcing the award of a major grant to the school district from the Mississippi Action for Progress, Inc. (MAP). The school district was awarded funding through a MAP Early Head Start 4 year old expansion grant.


Dr. Pamela Thomas, Program Director for Picayune School District Early Childhood Programs, told the board the grant was written for all of Pearl River County for 246 children at an allocation of approximatley $8,000 per child. Thomas said this grant is on a five year cycle which means about $10 million will be coming to Pearl River County through this grant award.

Dr. Pamela Thomas gives details about the MAP grant award


Dr. Thomas stated, “The main thing it’s going to do is bring continuity and all children in Pearl River County will be able to receive preschool services. It’s going to open up opportunities for all children that are ages 3 and 4 (years) to have these services whatever their family income is.”


Dr. Thomas said this program is a collaborative program with the state of Mississippi and it allows the additional 246 children to be mainstreamed in with children already in the Picayune program. She added that when you add this grant and all the other Head Start related programs in the county, it is around $25 million total coming to Pearl River County over the five year period.


Dr. Thomas said the Picayune School District is the only school district providing these services ages birth to 12th grade. She thanked the board of trustees and the administration for their support in the process of applying for this grant.


“Early childhood education is so important now because it affects economic development for our community,“ Dr. Thomas stated.


Superintendent Dean Shaw provided some insight on this grant’s importance to former Assistant Superintendent Brent Harrell who passed away last November.


“The Friday night before the Monday that Mr. Harrell passed away, as we were walking out of the office headed home, he shared with me that he hoped he lived long enough to see us receive one of these expansion grants. This grant was very dear to his heart and I know he is just beside himself about this.”

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