Archived Story

County gets 3 pre-k classes

Published 10:37am Wednesday, July 3, 2013

One Hartselle school and two Morgan County schools have been selected to receive grants to offer pre-kindergarten classes at their schools.

F.E. Burleson Elementary School will receive a $82,800 tiered grant. Lacey’s Spring School got a $120,000 first class plus grant while Eva School received a $45,000 Head Start grant.

Dr. Nancy Horton, director of instruction and federal programs for Hartselle City Schools, said Hartselle, Morgan County and Decatur school districts collaborated on these grants. Decatur also received pre-k grants for Chestnut Grove Elementary School and Head Start Sandlin Road.

“We’re excited to get the grants, not just for us, but also for Morgan County,” Horton said.

These pre-k classrooms will be the first for both the Hartselle and Morgan County school systems. Crestline Elementary has some pre-k students in special education class, but Horton said this would be the first traditional pre-k class. There is also a Head Start in Hartselle, but it isn’t affiliated with the school system.

Layne Dillard, director of special programs, said she felt like the collaboration among the three school districts helped them get grants.

“This is the first time that we’ve ever worked together on a grant like this,” Dillard said. “I think it helped us get this grant, because I think they were looking for cooperation between school systems.”

Horton said the grants are an 82.5 percent with a local match of 17.5 percent. However, she said the school system’s local match could be providing the classroom space and purchasing supplies for the teacher.

Horton said the grants will pay for one certified teacher and a teacher’s assistant.

“The 82.5 percent will basically cover the costs of the salary for both teachers,” Horton said.

Dillard said these pre-k classrooms are open for all students to apply, but each class will only house 18 students.

“Our school systems are planning to meet to develop a system for selecting the students along with posting the teaching positions,” Dillard said. “We probably won’t start taking applications until about mid-July.”

The partnership to get the grants also included the following entities: Decatur–Morgan County Chamber of Commerce, State Rep. Terri Collins (R-Decatur), Quality Education Committee Chairman Chuck Ard, the Decatur/Morgan County Minority Development Association, The United Way of Morgan County and Community Action Partnership of North Alabama.

“The initiative to expand quality pre-k in our community will provide opportunities for young people to be prepared for kindergarten that wouldn’t otherwise have the chance,” Collins said in a statement. “This effort could only happen with the collaboration of our school systems, the chamber, community groups, faith communities, private citizens and area advocates for quality education.

“At the end of the day, this is a tremendous victory for all children,” Collins added. “They are our number one priority.”

The grants announced by Gov. Robert Bentley June 26 expanded Alabama’s First Class voluntary pre-k program to more schools, preschools, child care centers, Head Start locations and other new and expanding pre-k sites across the state.

Alabama’s First Class program is nationally-recognized for its quality. Only 6 percent of Alabama’s 4-year-olds are currently enrolled in the First Class program. The state also ranks 33rd in access among the 40 states that offer pre-k programs.

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