MURRAY, KY — A Head Start program that serves multiple west Kentucky counties is getting more than $2.5 million in ongoing annual funding, plus one-time funding of more than $1.2 million.

Murray Head Start announced the grant awards in a news release Tuesday. The program will use the money to have longer days and more class instruction for 125 students in the Calloway County, Carlisle County, Fulton County, Fulton Independent, Hickman County, and Murray Independent school districts. The release says that’s a drastic increase from previous full-day funding it received in 2016 for 75 students in Graves, Marshall, and McCracken counties.

Head Start programs across the country were able to apply for the grant funding to pay for full-day classes. The supplemental grant Murray Head Start was awarded is a total of $2,528,864 in ongoing annual funds, and the one-time startup award is $1,296,536.

“These latest funds are a 71% increase in program operations funding to serve 3 and 4 year old students in full-day services that provide a minimum of 1,020 hours of school attendance,” Murray Head Start Director Cindy Graves says in the release.

The release says the funds will allow the program to hire more teaching staff and upgrade playgrounds, buses, technology, digital curriculum materials and assessment resources. It will also be used to increase social, emotional and behavioral services including research-based teaching strategies, professional development and mentor coaching for staff, added mental and behavioral health consultation, parent education, and community-wide family engagement and school-readiness events.

In addition to more teaching staff, Murray Head Start says it will hire more family services staff, education mentor coaches, and fiscal support staff.

For more information on Murray Head Start and Early Head Start services or for opportunities to partner in the counties it serves, call the Murray Head Start central office at 270-753-6031.