As a research group finds Alabama's Pre-K program is a national model, legislators must decide how much to expand it.
The National Institute for Early Education Research revealed Alabama's First Class Voluntary Pre-K program is one of only four in the nation to meet all of its quality benchmarks. But the researchers noted that only 6% of Alabama four year olds are enrolled in the state's program.
Omar White, a Montgomery parent, has a daughter enrolled in a private program, but even that has limited slots.
"It's only ten slots where my daughter goes to school," White said. "I know a lot of parents don't get the opportunity to put their kids in Pre-K, if the school doesn't have the slots available."
The State House of Representatives' version of the Education Trust Fund budget increases funding for the program by $12 million, while the Senate version only allows for a $6 million increase. The Governor pushed for the $12 million increase, as part of a plan to greatly expand access over the next 10 years.
It remains unclear which budget will ultimately prevail. The full Senate is expected to take up the budget this week.
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