Alabama’s First Class Pre-k Program To Add At Least 100 Classrooms

| May 18, 2017 @ 5:01 am

By Marie Leech

Alabama will add at least 100 new pre-kindergarten classrooms next school year, thanks to a $13 million expansion in state funding approved this morning by the Legislature.

Both chambers agreed to an Education Trust Fund Budget compromise after a conference committee worked out differences between the Senate- and House-passed versions. The bill, which includes a total of $77.5 million for the state’s high-quality First Class Pre-K program, now goes to Gov. Kay Ivey for signature.

“We already have 21,000 students pre-registered and on waiting lists for pre-K, and even with this expansion, we only have enough money to serve 16,500 of those,” said Allison Muhlendorf, executive director of the Alabama School Readiness Alliance. “That means at least 4,500 4-year-olds will be turned away. So we know the demand is there.”Alabama’s First Class Pre-K program, which began during the 2000-01 school year with eight classrooms, has been ranked No. 1 in the country for quality by the National Institute for Early Education Research for the past decade. NIEER annually ranks pre-K programs for quality, and Alabama’s program has consistently met or exceeded all 10 NIEER benchmarks.

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