Governor Kay Ivey and the Alabama Department of Early Childhood Education are proud to announce that the nationally-recognized, high quality Alabama First Class Pre-K program will add 55 new classrooms to 25 counties this fall.
The Department received 163 new classroom applications, and 123 of those met the qualifying criteria for funding. With the $6 million appropriated for First Class Pre-K in the FY2021 Education Trust Fund budget, the Department is able to fund 55 new classrooms with 68 eligible alternate classrooms on the waitlist.
“Alabama First Class Pre-K is a model of excellence in early learning for the nation,” Governor Ivey said. “By adding 55 classrooms, we will ensure that 22,500 children will build a strong foundation for their educational journey. I applaud the Alabama Department of Early Childhood Education for their uncompromising work in providing high quality early childhood education.”
New classrooms will expand access to the state funded, voluntary pre-kindergarten program to 22,500 children in the 2020-2021 school year, with more than 1,250 classrooms statewide serving 38 percent of 4-year-old children, moving closer to reaching Alabama’s pre-k access goal of reaching 40,000 students. Since 2013, state appropriations for pre-k expansion have increased 350 percent. An additional 110 teachers will be employed through this year’s First Class Pre-K program funding increase.
As announced by Governor Ivey last month, for the 14th consecutive year, Alabama leads the nation in providing the highest quality early learning experiences for four-year-old children.
“Thank you to our state leaders for ensuring that even more children and their families are provided the high quality early learning experiences that will positively impact their educational attainment and future success,” said Secretary of Early Childhood Education Jeana Ross. “This important support for pre-k will keep many of our youngest learners from starting school already a year behind and keep educational inequities and achievement gaps from compounding in K-12. We are appreciative of legislative leadership who have committed to further expanding pre-k with any identified additional funds.”
The Alabama Legislature approved a $6.95 million increase for the Alabama Department of Early Childhood Education, including $6 million for First Class Pre-K, $450,000 for the Governor’s “Strong Start Strong Finish” education initiative, and $500,000 for the ALFamilyCentral clearinghouse website. As historically proven, any funds entrusted to the Alabama Department of Early Childhood Education by the State will be carefully and intentionally used to provide the highest quality early learning experiences for children and support services for families with upmost accountability and transparency.