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Education budget gives Madison $82,100 for pre-K expansion

Sharon Willis works as Federal Programs Coordinator for Madison City Schools. (CONTRIBUTED)
Sharon Willis works as Federal Programs Coordinator for Madison City Schools. (CONTRIBUTED)

MONTGOMERY – Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley has signed the Education Trust Fund budget into law at almost nearly $6 billion, including a $10 million increase for Alabama’s First Class Pre-Kindergarten program.

The budget also increases funds for textbooks and classroom supplies.

“This has been a historic week for pre-K in Alabama,” Alabama School Readiness Alliance Executive Director Allison Muhlendorf said. The alliance promotes options for top-notch, voluntary pre-kindergarten.

“Gov. Bentley announced 202 new First Class Pre-K grants, funded with the increased state investments and Alabama’s federal Preschool Development Grant. This will allow 3,600 additional four-year-olds to attend the program, which has been recognized as no. 1 in the country for its quality for nine (consecutive) years,” Muhlendorf said.

“Madison City Schools will receive $82,100 for a sixth First Class Pre-K class in the Madison City First Class Pre-Kindergarten Center. This (amount) is in addition to the current five First Class Pre-K classes, which brings our total Office of School Readiness First Class Pre-K grants to $487,100,” Sharon Willis said.

Willis works as Federal Programs Coordinator for Madison City Schools.

Huntsville City Schools’ share of pre-K money is $610,500.

Madison County Schools will receive $1,169,400 for pre-K, allowing about 200 more four-year-olds to enroll in pre-K training.

“This is great news for Madison County Schools,” Superintendent Matt Massey said. “The research is clear that young children who participate in high quality pre-K programs enter school more ready to learn than others. The short-term and long-term affects point to higher grades, higher test scores and more opportunities for students.”

Massey credits Karen Jensen, the county’s Title I coordinator, with securing the grants. “Karen and her team worked very hard to make sure we made a great case to create opportunities for more students in Madison County Schools,” Massey said.

Jensen said the grants will impact these campuses: Hazel Green, Lynn Fanning, Madison County, Madison Cross Roads, Mount Carmel, New Hope, New Market, Owens Cross Roads and Walnut Grove elementary schools.

Alabama Department of Children’s Affairs administers the pre-K grants.

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