The new classrooms will expand access to Alabama’s high-quality, voluntary pre-kindergarten program to 18,864 children in the 2018-2019 school year, with more than 1,040 classrooms in all 67 counties that will serve 32 percent of eligible four-year-olds statewide.
“Having a strong start to one’s educational journey is critical to having a strong finish when it comes time to enter the workforce,” said Ivey. “Alabama’s voluntary First Class Pre-K program is, without question, the best in the nation. I am proud that we can increase the reach of this important educational opportunity, and I look forward to continuing to work with the Legislature to further expand the availability of voluntary Pre-K.”
This year the Alabama Legislature approved an $18.5 million expansion for First Class Pre-K, increasing the 2019 program budget to $96 million. This is the program’s largest ever single-year increase. In addition to funding new classrooms throughout the state, the Department of Early Childhood Education will continue to ensure pay parity for all First Class Pre-K teachers with the same 2.5% cost of living raise as K-12 public school teachers in the upcoming school year.
Monday’s announcement comes one week after Alabama First Class Pre-K was recognized by the National Institute for Early Education Research for having the highest-quality, state-funded voluntary pre-k program in the nation.
“First Class Pre-K is a nationally-recognized program of excellence,” said Jeana Ross, Secretary of Early Childhood Education. “The program framework encompasses all aspects of the highest quality early learning experiences that ensure school readiness for children, and this emphasis on quality impacts student outcomes far beyond kindergarten.”
Despite the additions, there are still 39,453 eligible Alabama children who do not have access to First Class Pre-K.
A list of all classrooms can be found at: http://children.alabama.gov/parents-families/findprek/