Legislature Approves Increased Pre-K Funding

May 18, 2017

The Alabama Legislature today gave final approval to a $13 million expansion of Alabama’s First Class Pre-K program. Both chambers agreed to an Education Trust Fund Budget compromise after a conference committee worked out differences between the Senate- and House-passed versions. The bill, which includes a total of $77.5 million for the state’s high-quality, voluntary pre-kindergarten program, now goes to Governor Ivey her signature.

Click here to thank your lawmakers for prioritizing pre-k funding! 

There are currently 816 First Class Pre-K classrooms across the state. That is only enough classrooms for 25 percent of four-year-olds statewide. The $13 million increase in state funding - combined with funding from year three of Alabama's four-year federal Preschool Development Grant - is expected to allow for the addition of at least 100 new First Class Pre-K classrooms.

The Alabama School Readiness Alliance has estimated that the state would need to appropriate a total level of funding of $144 million to give every Alabama family the opportunity to voluntarily enroll their four-year-old in a First Class Pre-K program.

In a joint statement, the Co-Chairs of the Alabama School Readiness Alliance’s business-led Pre-K Task Force, Bob Powers and Mike Luce, applauded legislators for prioritizing funds in this year’s budget to expand access to Alabama’s First Class Pre-K program.

“The budget approved today moves Alabama closer to our goal of fully funding high-quality, voluntary pre-k by the 2022-2023 school year,” said Bob Powers and Mike Luce, the co-chairs of the Alabama School Readiness Alliance Pre-K Task Force. “We thank the Legislature for once again making First Class Pre-K a priority.”

Mike Luce is Vice Chairman of Harbert Management in Birmingham. Bob Powers is the President of The Eufaula Agency. They are joined on the ASRA Pre-K Task Force by more than 40 prominent leaders from the business, education, civic, medical, legal, philanthropic, military and child advocacy communities. The group first proposed expanding pre-k access to all families in 2012. That year the Task Force launched a ten-year campaign, now in its fifth year, to advocate for incremental increases in First Class Pre-K until the program is fully funded in the 2022-2023 school year. The Task Force’s recommendations have been updated annually since the campaign’s launch.

The Alabama School Readiness Alliance’s Pre-K Task Force Recommendations can be viewed in their entirety at: alabamaschoolreadiness.org/recommendations/.

Alabama’s First Class Pre-K program is administered by the Alabama Department of Early Childhood Education through a competitive grants process. Classrooms are located in public schools, child care centers, faith-based centers, Head Start programs and other preschool settings. Prospective First Class Pre-K providers apply for new First Class Pre-K classroom grants or enhancement grants at the Department’s website, www.children.alabama.gov.

The Alabama School Readiness Alliance advocates for the expansion of high-quality, voluntary pre-kindergarten. ASRA works to ensure that pre-k is a continuing priority for Alabama’s children, parents, community leaders, legislators and governing officials. ASRA is a collaborative effort of A+ Education Partnership, Alabama Giving, Alabama Partnership and VOICES for Alabama’s Children.