Governor Bentley made the announcement today at Leeds Pre-School, one of the 93 pre-K programs that will receive grant money. Source: WBRC video
LEEDS, AL (WBRC) -
Hundreds, if not thousand, of more Alabama children will now have the option to attend voluntary pre-K classes thanks to new grants announced today by Governor Bentley. That includes more than a dozen pre-K programs in the Birmingham area.
Bentley and pre-K advocates asked for and got an extra $9 million in funding for pre-K from the state legislature this year, and schools who wanted a shot at that money had to apply for grants.
Wednesday morning Bentley revealed the list of 93 schools that includes Leeds Pre-School, where Bentley met with students and talked up the program.
"All children across our state, regardless of where they live, deserve the opportunity to succeed, and we need to always remember that," Gov. Bentley said. "If these children can be ready and prepared they're gonna do better, and it'll be easier on you once they get to you."
Birmingham attorney Elizabeth Huntley is on the board of trustees at Auburn, but was once the child of drug dealers who was sent to live with her grandmother in some Clanton housing projects.
She says her life changed when at four years old, she was admitted to a pre-K program in the basement of a local church.
"I got something I wouldn't have gotten at home, even though my grandmother loved me and did the best she could, she couldn't give me the structure I needed academically to prepare me for school," Huntley told an audience of teachers and preschoolers.
The grants were awarded to schools based on several criteria, including local needs, demand and high quality standards at the new and expanding pre-K sites, according to a release from the governor's office.
Bentley said the state had to turn down more than half the schools that applied for the funding, illustrating a need for more funding he'll be pushing for next year.
"I wanna give more families this option," Bentley said. "I wanna give them the option to enroll their children into a voluntary pre-K program."
Click here to see the full list of the 93 voluntary pre-K programs that have been awarded funding.