Each year, the Early Learning Collaborative Act of 2013 – a program of the Mississippi Department of Revenue – provides individuals and businesses throughout the state to qualify for a 1:1 tax credit while supporting Pre-Kindergarten measures for young children.
Community Bank stepped up this time around for the Lamar County School District, recently contributing $43,750 to the district’s early learning collaborative, which serves more than 300 Pre-K students enrolled in the program.
“(This contribution) is huge; it really is,” said Steven Hampton, superintendent of the Lamar County School District. “For us, it definitely allows us to get more kids (to start reading at an early age).
“Research shows that from birth to five years old … you have a perfect opportunity to reach children, and it’s so beneficial. The more children we can reach to get in a classroom setting, the benefits pay dividends down the road, and it’s unbelievable how much it helps our students.”
Funds from the Early Learning Collaborative Act are earmarked strictly for Pre-K measures such as programs, supplies and classrooms.
“The analogy I use when I talk to business owners is, ‘it’s like a race,’” Hampton said. “If I’m in the Pre-K program, I’m getting a head start in the race of education, I guess you could say.
“If I get that head start, then I am definitely able to go further, faster. So it really helps our students.”
Last year, the Lamar County School District received $619,380 through the Early Learning Collaborative Act, which allowed the district to start two new classrooms to serve more children.
“We’re trying to reach those kids that are not in any daycare,” Hampton said. “We’re not trying to compete with any daycares; we’re not trying to steal any students or children away from our local daycares, because they do a fantastic job.
“But we’re trying to get students who are not involved in any type of educational setting, and that money will also help us to work with our local daycares to provide them with curriculum and training to help support their efforts with getting children to read at an early age.”
The deadline to contribute to the collaborative is Dec. 31. To do so, individuals or businesses can make out a check to the Lamar County Early Learning Collaborative and mail it to the Lamar County School District, 424 Martin Luther King Drive, Purvis, MS 39475.
Checks also can be dropped off at the district’s main office at the above address. More information can be found by calling (601) 794-1030.
“It can be done at any time between now and the end of the year, and it will be a dollar-to-dollar tax credit on their taxes – their state income tax,” Hampton said. “We will give (contributors) a letter in return, stating that they donated this money.
“The Mississippi Department of Education will send them a letter as well, to file with their taxes. Whoever files their taxes will be able to get that dollar-for-dollar tax credit. This is a perfect opportunity for you to designate your state tax dollars to your community.”