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2 new pre-k classes set

County schools awarded $300K for WSN, Flomaton

Escambia County is one of 40 counties to share in more than $14 million in First Pre-K grants.

Gov. Kay Ivey announced last week that the monies will add 122 new classrooms in the upcoming school year –  including a second pre-k class at W.S. Neal Elementary and a new class at Flomaton Elementry School.

The additions increase Alabama’s voluntary pre-kindergarten program for the 2017-18 school year to 938 classrooms with an enrollment of approximately 16,884 four year olds.

Enrollment numbers will raise 3 percent from the 25 percent set last year statewide for four-year olds having access to a classroom. 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 high-quality childhood education program has long lasting benefits on our society as a whole,” 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.”

Elementary schools at WSN and Flomaton were each awarded $150,000.

WSNES had its first pre-K class this past calendar school year. The new funds will go towards expanding the program into a second class. FES will be starting its first program. A.C. Moore located in Atmore also has a Pre-K program.

Escambia County School Board superintendent John Knott said the First Class Pre-K program has proved to be a success in recent years, and is excited for the opportunity to increase enrollment for FES and WSNES.

“We’re finding by having the Pre-K program the kids are so much prepared to start learning and engaging in the school process and that’s important,” Knott said. “The parents and the community have expressed a huge need in the program. All data indicates the program has been successful in showing the kids’ need to be successful in school.”

Jeana Ross, secretary of the Alabama Department of Early Childhood Education, said the department is very excited to be able to make the state’s First Class Pre-K Program available to more families in the upcoming school year.

“I look forward to when Alabama can make the program available to all families that wish to enroll their four-year-olds,” Ross said.

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.

Knott said steps are in order to work quickly as possible to open the application process for both WSNES and FES, which will be announced at a later date.