DOTHAN, Ala. (AP) — A $23 million funding proposal could expand pre-K programs in Alabama.
The Dothan Eagle reports that Gov. Kay Ivey is planning to boost pre-K spending in the upcoming legislative session to possibly help the program reach rapid expansion. The proposal could be the largest single-year increase since it was created.
Early education advocates have lobbied the Legislature for more funds for pre-K programs. The state has increased the number of four-year-olds enrolled in its program from 6 percent of eligible children to 28 percent.
The program is regarded as one of the best in the nation.
Allison Muhlendorf, executive director of the Alabama School Readiness Alliance, said that if the Legislature approves the additional funding, that figure could go up to 34 percent.
"This would add 200 classrooms and serve 3,600 children," she said.
Alabama's pre-K program is delivered by a quilt of public schools and other organizations receiving grants from the state.
Muhlendorf said the existing investments in pre-K classrooms will allow organizations to capitalize on economies of scale to expand their programs. Early childhood education advocates hope to have 70 percent of eligible four-year-olds in the state covered in the program by the 2022-2023 school year.
The program in Alabama is ranked as the top state-funded pre-K program in the country by the National Institute for Early Education Research.