Alabama First Pre-K program to add 55 new classrooms

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MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WSFA) -- The Alabama First Class Pre-K program will add more than 50 new classrooms to 25 counties this fall, Gov. Kay Ivey announced Tuesday.

Ivey said out of the 163 new classroom applications the Alabama Department of Early Childhood Education received, 123 met the qualifying criteria for funding. The department is able to fund 55 new classrooms, with 68 alternate classrooms on a waitlist, through the $6 million appropriated for the program in the education budget.

“Alabama First Class Pre-K is a model of excellence in early learning for the nation,” Ivey said. “By adding 55 classrooms, we will ensure that 22,500 children will build a strong foundation for their educational journey. I applaud the Alabama Department of Early Childhood Education for their uncompromising work in providing high quality early childhood education.”

Ivey said the new classrooms will expand access of the program to 22,500 children in the 2020-2021 school year, with more than 1,250 classrooms statewide serving 38 percent of 4-year-olds. The state’s goal is for the program to reach 40,000 students.

Since 2013, Ivey said state appropriations for pre-k expansion have increased 350 percent. An additional 110 teachers will be employed through this year’s First Class Pre-K program funding increase.

“Thank you to our state leaders for ensuring that even more children and their families are provided the high quality early learning experiences that will positively impact their educational attainment and future success,” said Secretary of Early Childhood Education Jeana Ross. “This important support for pre-k will keep many of our youngest learners from starting school already a year behind and keep educational inequities and achievement gaps from compounding in K-12. We are appreciative of legislative leadership who have committed to further expanding pre-k with any identified additional funds.”

The classrooms opening in WSFA 12 News’ coverage area are:
► Autauga County
• Prattville KinderCare Learning Center Pre-K 1
► Coffee County
• Elba Elementary Pre-K 2
► Geneva County
• James A. Mulkey Elementary Pre-K 1
► Lee County
• Opelika High Pre-K 2
• Opelika High Pre-K 1
► Lowndes County
• Jackson-Steele OSR Head Start Pre-K 1
► Montgomery County
• Pike Road Elementary Pre-K 4
• Pike Road Elementary Pre-K 2

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