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By The Associated Press
JACKSON, Miss. (AP) — In addition to $2.75 billion to fund school districts, public school construction and teacher supplies, the Mississippi Department of Education asked for $6.5 million to start or expand five special initiatives:

—Early childhood education: $2.5 million

Provide 25 grants of $100,000 each to targeted school districts to create prekindergarten programs that line up with the state curriculum, preparing children for kindergarten.

—Dropout prevention: $1.5 million

Increase local and state efforts to focus on identifying students at risk of dropping out and keeping them in school.

—Common Core standards: $1 million

Provide training to help teachers move to new curriculum based on Common Core standards adopted by the state.

—Excellence for all: $1 million

Allow additional districts to adopt such high school curricula meant to help students enter college early without remedial classes. Three districts are now in the program — Clarksdale, Corinth and Gulfport.

—Superintendent academy: $500,000

Train new superintendents, based partially on a similar initiative in Kentucky.

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