KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- A local school district is celebrating a unique milestone Friday morning.
Hickman Mills is one of the first school districts in Missouri to offer free, all day pre-kindergarten classes.
The district has spent more than $10 million to repurpose a former middle school into an early learning center.
More than 830 pre-kindergartners and kindergartners attend Ervin Early Learning Center off 105th and Greenwood .
Research has shown that four-year-olds who attend a high-quality pre-kindergarten class have a better chance of succeeding in school. The research shows that quality early education will help students get into college and eventually secure a good paying job.
In low-income school districts such as Hickman Mills, this new program offers children hope for a better future.
While most families in the metro have to pay to enroll their child in a pre-K program, Hickman Mills secured the funding to offer it for free.
The district said they hope the program will eventually lead to higher overall test scores and more student success in the classroom.
Hickman Mills also offers free pre-K instruction to more than 280 other kids at the Freda Markley Early Childhood Center.