Louisiana's top school board on Tuesday will decide whether to authorize $700,000 for pilot projects in New Orleans, Lafayette and five other communities aimed at improving access to early childhood education.
The changes will be financed with part of the $8 million in mostly federal dollars the state received earlier this month.
Louisiana is getting nearly $8 million to improve the quality of early childhood education, officials said Wednesday.
Under current rules, state officials in Baton Rouge play a major role in deciding how dollars are allocated and improvements in care are made.
The pilot projects would move more control to local providers, including how many slots are needed for youngsters from birth to age 5.
The result is a "community driven, locally driven not state driven expansion of access to quality care for young children," said Jessica Baghian, assistant superintendent of assessment, accountability, analytics and early childhood.
Each of seven communities have applied for $100,000 per year for two years.
If approved the money would go to the Jefferson and Lafayette parishes school districts and the New Orleans Early Education Network.
Exactly how the money is used would likely include input from local child care providers, officials of Head Start, pre-kindergarten leaders and others.
Others set to get funds are school districts or community agencies in Iberville, St. Mary, Washington and Rapides parishes.
Legislation aimed at improving access to affordable early childhood education and care from birth to age 4 won final legislative approval Friday.
The pilots stem from a state law enacted earlier this and sponsored by state Rep. Stephanie Hilferty, R-Metairie.
They are designed to improve on the overhaul of early childhood education spelled out in a 2012 state law.
That law called for better coordination of early childhood education statewide but left most of the details to state and local officials.
Most of the nearly $8 million, which has to be spent this year, is from the federal government.
About $800,000 is from the W. K. Kellog Foundation.
Louisiana's most pressing needs include those from birth to age 3, of which 7 percent are served, and three-year-olds, with 33 percent served now.
One of the chief concerns when the bill won approval was how the pilots would be financed.
The proposal will be discussed by a BESE committee on Tuesday and, if approved as expected, the full board on Wednesday at 9 a.m.