New Grants Expand Pre-K Across Alabama

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By Alabama News Network

In other news, Alabama's Pre-K program is again named one of the top in the nation.

 
And on the heels of that, Governor Bentley released details of 100 new grants to expand Pre-K programs across the state. 
 
Next year's education budget includes a $10 million increase to the First Class voluntary Pre-K program, bringing the total to almost $40 million. 
 
And that extra money means a lot for these classrooms. 
 
With the latest grant money, there will be pre-k programs in 40 of Alabama's 67 counties. 
And that means a head start for even more students.
 
Jo Wood has already had one child go through Wetumpka Preschool and has another enrolled now.
 
She says it's had a huge impact on her children.
 
"So they have been a step ahead upon entry to kindergarten. They've learned responsibility. During lunchtime they pass meals around to the other children, they all have responsibilities they're given throughout the day. That also goes to home life, where they come home and want to do the same things," said Wood.
 
ASU's early childhood development center received one of the biggest grants, almost $100 thousand. 
 
That will let the center double its program to 36 children.
 
"We'll be able to gain new instructional materials, hire an additional teacher, and we're looking out at reaching out to children who are not eligible to get into a paid early childhood program," said Gloria Johnson, Zelia Stephens Early Childhood Development Center Principal
 
Preschool is one of Governor Bentley's largest priorities, and the legislature backed him up. But this is just the beginning of what the Alabama School Readiness Alliance hopes to achieve. 
 
"Within the next 10 years we would like to see the alabama first class prek fully funded. We're now in year 2 of that plan. In the next year our prek task force will be making another recommendation for lawmakers to consider when it comes to prek funding. We're very hopeful that this momentum around pre-k will continue," said Allison de la Torre, Alabama School Readiness Alliance Executive Director.
 
The alliance says full funding would be an additional $125 million over what the state was spending in 2012. 

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