Ala. Pre-K program best in nation; many students can't get in - KFVS12 News & Weather Cape Girardeau, Carbondale, Poplar Bluff

Ala. Pre-K program best in nation; many students can't get in

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MONTGOMERY, AL (WSFA) -

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.

Copyright 2013 WSFA 12 News.  All rights reserved.

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