Alabama to Add 122 New First Class Pre-K Classrooms for 2017-2018 School Year
MONTGOMERY – Alabama Governor Kay Ivey and the Alabama Department of Early Childhood Education today announced that the state’s First Class Pre-K program will add 122 new classrooms this fall. The new classrooms will increase the size of Alabama’s high-quality, voluntary pre-kindergarten program for the 2017-2018 school year to 938 classrooms enrolling approximately 16,884 four-year-olds (28 percent of all four-year-olds) statewide.
The new classrooms were made possible due to increased appropriations in the FY 2018 Education Trust Fund Budget along with funding from year three of Alabama’s four-year federal Preschool Development Grant. A list of the new classrooms can be found at http://children.alabama.gov/2017-2018-osr-grant-award-announcements/.
“A high-quality childhood education program has long lasting benefits on our society as a whole,” Governor Kay Ivey Said. “Investment in our people through education, no matter at what level, is an investment in economic development. I am proud that we are now offering our nationally acclaimed First Class Pre-K program to more Alabama children and families.”
Alabama’s First Class Pre-K program is managed by the Alabama Department of Early Childhood Education. ADECE is a part of the executive department of the state government, principally established to enable the governor to effectively and efficiently coordinate early learning programs throughout the state. The department administers the First Class Pre-K program through competitive grants awarded annually. Classrooms are located in public and private schools, child care centers, faith-based centers, Head Start programs, and other community-based preschool settings.
“We are very excited that we are able to make the state’s First Class Pre-K program available to more families in the upcoming school year,” said Jeana Ross, the secretary of the Alabama Department of Early Childhood Education. “I look forward to when Alabama can make the program available to all families that wish to enroll their four-year-olds.”
ADECE received more than 300 grant applications for new classrooms. The Department prioritized grants to communities that indicated the greatest need for additional classrooms. Demand for enrollment continues to exceed the number of classrooms available. Even with the expansion, to-date, more than 3,400 students already pre-registered for next year will not have the opportunity to attend. Students are selected for the limited slots via random drawings at local sites.
Today’s announcement comes one week after the National Institute for Early Education Research named, for the 11th year in a row, Alabama’s First Class Pre-K program one of the nation’s highest quality state-funded pre-kindergarten programs for four-year-olds. Alabama and Rhode Island are the only states with a pre-k program that meets or exceeds all ten of the benchmarks NIEER measures to determine program quality in this year’s report, as well as already meeting or exceeding the benchmarks NIEER will use to determine quality in future reports.
The mission of the Alabama Department of Early Childhood Education is to provide state leadership that identifies, promotes, and coordinates services for children, their families, and communities. With primary emphasis on ensuring that all of Alabama’s children are prepared for school success and lifelong learning through voluntary, diverse, high-quality early childhood programs.