Georgia Governor Plans $50 Million Infusion for State Preschool Program
Cross-posted from Early Years
By Christina A. Samuels
Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal would like to use $50 million from a lottery reserve fund to patch up cuts to the state's prekindergarten program made back in 2011.
Deal, a Republican, told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution newspaper that he's still working through the specifics, but that the money for Georgia pre-K would come from a reserve fund currently worth about $350 million.
In the 2011-12 school year, the state cut the prekindergarten year from 180 to 160 days, but the 180-day length was restored by 2013-14. The state also increased maximum class sizes to 22 from 20, and that increased class size is still in place.
"We all know the statistics indicate a good pre-K program is the best starting point we can have for children in schools," Deal told the Journal-Constitution. "Class size and teacher compensation are critical components for being able to have an effective and responsible pre-K program."
Georgia has a long history with prekindergarten; its program was established in 1993, and it became the nation's first universal preschool program for 4-year-olds two years later, in 1995. The state also won a $51.7 million Race to the Top-Early Learning Challenge grant in 2013. About 81,000 children are served by the program.