Special to Atmore News
MONTGOMERY – Governor Kay Ivey and the Alabama Department of Early Childhood Education (ADECE) on Tuesday announced the expansion of the Alabama First Class Pre-K program. The department will initially add 69 classrooms in 30 counties this fall, providing seats for more than 1,200 children. The classrooms included in this first round are part of Governor Ivey’s specific education initiatives that include addressing turnaround schools and high needs areas as well as reducing wait lists for pre-k programs.
Schools in Escambia County are A. C. Moore Elementary Pre-K, Flomaton Elementary Pre-K, Pollard McCall Jr. High Pre-K, and W. S. Neal Elementary Pre-K.
“Ensuring our youngest learners have a strong start to their educational journeys is one of my top priorities for my second term. Alabama continues to set the nationwide standard for success with the Alabama First Class Pre-K program,” Governor Ivey said. “I am excited to see additional classrooms being awarded to areas of the state with low access and high rates of poverty. Providing all children, no matter their zip code, with a solid foundation in education is critical to the future success of our state.”
Last month, the National Institute for Early Education Research (NIEER) ranked Alabama First Class Pre-K as the nation’s highest quality state pre-kindergarten program for the 17th consecutive year. Alabama leads the nation, while expanding program access to Alabama’s 4-year-olds.
“Through the leadership of Governor Ivey and the Alabama Legislature, Alabama’s state pre-k program continues to move toward the goal of serving 70 percent of Alabama’s population of 4-year-old children,” said Dr. Jan Hume, Acting Secretary of the Alabama Department of Early Childhood Education. “Since the program’s creation in 2000, we continue to prioritize age appropriate, impactful early learning and development experiences for children and their families.”
The state’s investment in high-quality pre-kindergarten has led to substantial positive outcomes for children who participate in the program. Research on the program’s long-term impacts shows that students who participated in First Class Pre-K are more likely to be successful throughout their school careers than their peers who did not participate in the program.
Governor Ivey signed the 2024 Education Trust Fund budget which included an almost $12 million increase for the Office of School Readiness that administers First Class Pre-K. The department will continue to ensure pay parity for all First Class Pre-K teachers with the same pay raise as K-12 public school teachers in the upcoming school year. The ADECE expects to fund additional classrooms in areas of the state with wait lists and other identified needs.