Alabama to expand Pre-K program in school systems

FLORENCE, Ala. – School systems across Alabama are awaiting a big announcement. They are competing for $13-million released by the state to expand Pre-K programs.

Even reading time in Joe Guzman’s Pre-K classroom at Forest Hills School in Florence is exciting.

The four-year-olds don’t likely realize they are building skills towards their future.

Superintendent Jimmy Shaw, Florence City Schools

Florence Superintendent Jimmy Shaw knows first hand the importance a Pre-K program has. His children went through it.

“The foundational skills my kids learned with letter naming and phonemic awareness, and counting and shapes and socialization have been awesome,” said Shaw. “It was a good program.”

Which is why Shaw is wanting to expand.

The state legislature has appropriated millions to add roughly 100 Pre-K classrooms across the state.

Shaw has requested funding for two additional classes, one at Weeden and one for Harlan School. The programs, they are tuition free.

“We would love to have a Pre-K program for every kindergarten classroom that we have,” stated Shaw. “We would really like to offer that foundational strengthening piece to all of our parents and all of our students in the city.”

There are more than 50 kids on a waiting list for Pre-K here in Florence. Shaw is hoping to know if they will be able to expand in the coming days.

There are more than 800 first class Pre-K classrooms state-wide.

Grants for the classrooms are organized through the Alabama Department of Early Childhood Education.