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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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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