Five Mobile County public schools will open new Alabama First Class voluntary Pre-K classrooms in August, Gov. Robert Bentley has just announced.
They are: Dodge Elementary in west Mobile, Florence Howard Elementary near downtown Mobile, McDavid-Jones Elementary in Citronelle, Meadowlake Elementary on Three Notch Road, and J.E. Turner Elementary in Wilmer.
“Mobile County is most appreciative of this opportunity to serve additional four-year-olds,” said Paula Reese, who oversees the Pre-K program for Mobile County Public Schools. “We will continue to expand Pre-K as funds become available so that eventually we will have at least one Pre-K classroom in every elementary school.”
Children who will be 4 on or before Sept. 1 and who live within any Mobile County Public Schools district can apply for enrollment in these new Pre-K sites. Applications will be available in coming weeks and students will be chosen for enrollment through a random selection process. Information about the application process will be posted on mcpssthewire.com and the school system’s Facebook page as soon as it is available.
“It’s rewarding to know we will be able to offer quality Pre-K in five more classes in Mobile County,” said MCPSS Superintendent Martha Peek. “Pre-K provides a great foundation for learning and for future success and we are pleased to be able to offer this for the children in our community.”
This expansion is part of a $16 million increase in Pre-K funding approved by the Alabama Legislature and signed by the governor as part of the Education Trust Fund for fiscal year 2017. One hundred and fifty-five new grants were awarded, which will provide Pre-K for more than 2,700 additional four-year-olds statewide.
“Voluntary Pre-Kindergarten is a proven program that prepares students for success,” Governor Robert Bentley said. “Only 20 percent of Alabama’s four-year-olds are currently enrolled in the First Class program. Along with the support of legislative funding, we will continue to expand access to this program until every Alabama parent who wants their child to attend has access. I appreciate the staff at the Department of Early Childhood Education for working hard to help organizations receive grants.”
In January, Mobile County Public Schools converted 50 Pre-K classes to Alabama’s national-award-winning First Class Pre-K program. That included classes at 27 elementary schools across the county as well as at Just 4 Developmental Laboratory, a stand-alone school that serves about 300 students in Toulminville.
By converting to First Class, Mobile County has adhered to First Class’ program and classroom guidelines while also receiving new materials, furniture, supplies and additional professional development for Pre-K and auxiliary teachers to support high-quality Pre-K.
Besides these public schools, Mobile Community Action is receiving grants for three Head Start sites, and the Child Day Care Association, Satsuma and Chickasaw are receiving funds.
Grants were awarded based on several criteria including local needs, local demand and assurances of high quality standards at the new and expanding Pre-K sites. Each grantee is required to supplement the grant award with an amount equal to or greater than 25 percent of the award amount. Remaining grants will be allocated to additional sites based on various needs in the near future.
First Class is managed by the Office of School Readiness, which is part of the Alabama Department of Early Childhood Education.