Mobile County Public Schools has been awarded seven new classroom grants as part of the state’s largest-ever single-year expansion of its award-winning First Class Pre-K program. This expansion comes as the result of the Alabama Legislature’s approval of Gov. Kay Ivey’s recommended budget increase for the Alabama Department of Early Childhood Education.
The grant awards will fund new First-Class Pre-K classrooms as Castlen, Dixon, Fonde, Hutchens, O’Rourke, J.E. Turner and St. Elmo elementary schools, allowing MCPSS to provide high-quality Pre-K to 126 more 4-year-olds. This brings the totals to 68 First Class Pre-K classrooms in the system serving 1,224 students for the 2019-2020 school year.
“We are more than excited as we continue to increase the number of 4-year-olds receiving high-quality Pre-K in Mobile,” said Paula Reese, who oversees pre-kindergarten programs for Mobile County Public Schools. “Kids Count data shows a decrease in first-grade retention from 6.9 percent (base year 2008-2009) to a current rate of 0.6 percent. Pre-K is working. Children are better prepared and ready for kindergarten.
“As we increase the number served, the retention rate will continue to decrease across the board. Our Pre-K students are prepared to succeed socially, emotionally and academically in kindergarten and beyond.”
The National Institute for Early Education Research (NIEER) has ranked Alabama’s First Class Pre-K program as the highest quality state-funded Pre-K program in the nation for the 13th year in a row, along with Michigan and Rhode Island. It has met all 10 of the research-based benchmarks established by the NIEER to determine a program’s quality.
Five of these seven schools already have First-Class Pre-K and have waiting lists full of students to fill a new classroom. Castlen and Hutchens will add First Class Pre-K for the first time and will have online registration available soon. Once that registration closes, a random selection drawing will be held.