School is starting early for a few Las Cruces students. It's all part of a new program aimed at improving reading and math skills. Las Cruces educator Dr. Elizabeth Marrufo is helping several students prepare to tackle another academic year. “The motivate for beginning school 25 days ahead of peers is to obviously give students a jump start on the school year. Get them in a routine. Get them into developing their literacy, numerously and social skills earlier than peers at other school,” she said. The program is called K-3 Plus and is funded by the New Mexico Legislature, giving economically disadvantaged students a chance to succeed in the classroom. “It is not necessarily a remedial program where students need extra help it’s a benefit for them to be able to attend the 25 extra days,” she said. There are nine elementary schools within the school district qualified for the state-funded program. Although participation isn't mandatory, educators say K-3 Plus is highly encouraged. “In reading, we use a program called Reading Street in addition to having a balanced literacy program where students read at their level. They also write building upon their writing skills,” she said. Dr. Marrufo says students enrolled in the program will be the first in the district taught under a new set of state education guidelines. She says students attending those 25 extra days are less likely to forget what they learned the previous year. “When students don’t’ have access to high quality materials and reading and math, often this is a problem for students to get to the library or to find a math book that might challenge them a bit more,” she said. School leaders say nearly 1500 students in kindergarten, first, second and third grades are expected to participate.