Grants allow Arab City Schools Preschool Program & others in Tennessee Valley to expand

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ARAB, Ala. (WHNT) -- Thousands of Alabama children will get a jump-start on their education this fall, thanks to an expansion of the State's Voluntary Pre-K program.

On Tuesday, Governor Bentley announced more than 200 grants that will give thousands of kids access to voluntary pre-k statewide.

The waiting list for the Arab City Schools Preschool Program spanned dozens of names. "We started out with 73, and we drew 18 names so we had 55 on the waiting list this year," Program director and Arab Primary School principal Leah Keith says.

The program is located at Arab Primary School. Keith says they applied for an additional grant for more classes to help accommodate more kids. On Tuesday they found they got a lot more than they expected. The program is awarded three more grants.

"With the addition of three more classes we should be able to accommodate all of them but one, and I think I think we'll find a spot for that one too," Keith says.

The grants announced by Governor Bentley this week will expand Alabama's First Class Voluntary Pre - K program to more sites across the State, and that will give nearly 4,000 additional four year olds access to the program state-wide.

Keith says the program is beneficial in preparing students for kindergarten, among other aspects.

Arab Primary School recently expanded and now that addition will house the expanded preschool program.

With the additional grants Arab City Schools Preschool Program is reachable to more families. "Everyone in Arab who wants preschool can get it this year," Keith says.

In all, the Governor's office awarded 200 additional grants. In the Tennessee Valley multiple school systems are included. Follow this link for a full list.