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Alabama Speaker McCutcheon visits Pre-K center

Mac McCutcheon, Speaker of Alabama House of Representatives, visits with students at MCS First Class Pre-Kindergarten Center. CONTRIBUTED
Mac McCutcheon, Speaker of Alabama House of Representatives, visits with students at MCS First Class Pre-Kindergarten Center. CONTRIBUTED

MADISON – Youngsters and their teachers had a special visitor on Jan. 2 when Mac McCutcheon, Speaker of the Alabama House of Representatives, visited Madison City Schools First Class Pre-Kindergarten Center.

Advocates for the Alabama School Readiness Alliance to Center organized McCutcheon’s tour. Alliance members and McCutcheon discussed the impact of a $20-million expansion for Alabama’s First Class Pre-K program.

If appropriated, the $20-million increase would expand funding from $64.5 million to $84.5 million. Combined with year three’s funding from Alabama’s four-year federal Preschool Development Grant, the increase would add approximately 160 new classrooms and help enroll approximately 2,880 additional four-year-olds.

“Expanding Alabama’s First Class Pre-K program has been a priority for lawmakers over the last couple of years,” McCutcheon said. “Lawmakers understand that the more prepared a child is on the first day of kindergarten to learn, the more likely that child will be to succeed in school.”

“The state’s commitment to the program is an important investment in Alabama’s future,” he said.

Alabama Department of Early Childhood Education administers the state’s First Class Pre-K program.

Currently, Alabama has 816 First Class classrooms. However, only 25 percent of Alabama four-year-olds can participate because of state funding. Madison County’s percentage of participating four-year-olds is slightly higher than the state average at 29 percent.

MCS Pre-K Center is home to eight of the 66 First Class Pre-K classrooms available across Madison County.

For 10 consecutive years, Alabama’s First Class Pre-K program has been ranked number one in the United States by the independent National Institute for Early Education Research.

Pre-kindergarten benefits students in several ways, according to the Public Affairs Research Council of Alabama:

* Consistently outperform their peers in reading and math on state assessments.

* More likely to graduate from high school and find success in the workforce.

* Less likely to commit a crime or rely on social welfare programs as adults.

“Alabama’s First Class Pre-K program is proven to prepare children for success in school, but too few Alabama families (can) enroll their child due to a lack of state funding,” said alliance executive director Allison Muhlendorf.

The Alabama School Readiness Alliance is a collaborative effort of A+ Education Partnership, Alabama Giving, Alabama Partnership and VOICES for Alabama’s Children. For more information, visit alabamaschoolreadiness.org.

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