MOBILE COUNTY, Ala. (WKRG) – More Alabama families have access to public Pre-K after the Alabama Legislature passed an expansion of Alabama’s First Class Pre-K program earlier this year. On Tuesday officials held a ribbon cutting for one of the classrooms that expansion funded at Elsie Collier Elementary School.
The new classroom was made possible by the $13 million expansion of the Alabama’s First Class Pre-K Program combined with funding from year three of Alabama’s four-year federal Preschool Development Grant.
“It’s not just like a daycare,” said parent Erika Kilpatrick. “It’s real school. They’re learning that structure that’s so hard in the transition to kindergarten because my son had such a hard time in kindergarten.”
In total, the 13 million dollar expansion created four new First Class Pre-K Programs in Mobile County. This makes public Pre-K available to 72 more Mobile County Public School System students than last year.
The state now pumps $77.5 million into the state’s high-quality, voluntary prekindergarten program each year.
Statewide there are 938 Alabama First Class Pre-K classrooms. However, this provides just 28 percent of four-year-olds the opportunity to attend state-funded pre-k.
The Alabama School Readiness Alliance has estimated that the state would need to appropriate a total of $144 million to give every Alabama family the opportunity to enroll their four-year-old in a First Class Pre-K program. ASRA and its Pre-K task force are leading a ten-year initiative to fully fund Alabama’s First Class Pre-K program by the 2022-2023 school year.
“If the revenue continues to increase, we will increase the number of classes because it’s so beneficial to these kids and we want to expand it to have more schools have it throughout the state,” said State Senator Rusty Glover.