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N.C. Governor Adds 6,300 Seats to State Preschool Program

There's good news today for thousands of North Carolina families who hope to enroll their kids in the state's preschool program.

On Thursday, Gov. Bev Perdue authorized the expansion of the North Carolina Prekindergarten Program to serve as many as 6,300 additional children by Jan. 1, 2013. About 1,000 can start attending preschool immediately across the state, according to a statement on the governor's website.

Perdue, a Democrat, said she plans to use $20 million in projected unspent government funds to pay for the expansion. While good news for North Carolina families, her decision isn't expected to please the Republican-led legislature, which had approved earlier this year a 20 percent cut that eliminated thousands of preschool seats.

"After the General Assembly cut early education programs by 20 percent, thousands of our youngest students were cut out of the Pre-K classroom," Perdue said on the website. "Today we can welcome many of them in."

Perdue's decision follows an August ruling by the North Carolina Court of Appeals that upheld a lower court ruling mandating that the state "not deny any eligible 'at-risk' 4-year-old admission" to NC Pre-K.

Republican leaders, who have previously said they will appeal the court ruling, said in a news report that unspent money from the Department of Health and Human Services that Perdue planned to spend "should be used to plug gaps in rising Medicaid costs rather than 'a temporary expansion of government day care.' "

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