Educators Ask State For $12.5 M Annually For Pre-K Education

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HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WHNT) - There's a statewide campaign underway aimed at Alabama lawmakers to make some big painful decisions regarding funding in order to set up the state's children for success.  It was launched simultaneously around the state on Thursday morning.

A task force that has been studying Pre-Kindergarten education and its benefits for the last year argues investing in the Pre-K education is imperative to the future of the state.

One member of that team is Huntsville School Superintendent Dr. Casey Wardynski.  He started his day on Thursday at a Huntsville elementary school, as part of a team spelling out a plan to add hundreds of classrooms over the next ten years.

The plan is to expand Pre-K education in Alabama, which the task force members say is all about "pay-now or pay later."

As children sing and clap inside a Pre-K class at James Dawson Elementary School, observers can hear the learning going on.

Children learning at this early age of four years old will spell out good financial news for the future, according to supporters of a new statewide pre-k education initiative.  They call it an investment in the future.
"The most important investments we can make actually come early. because those investments lay a foundation for future success," said Dr. Wardynski.  He explained every dollar spent on pre-k education ultimately adds up to huge savings for everyone.  "We ultimately see down the road in taxpayers benefit in about two dollars to 17 dollars in avoided tutor costs, social welfare cost and the worst extreme, imprisonment."

Don Nalley of the Huntsville-Madison County Chamber of Commerce backed up Wardynski saying, "We can either keep on doing what we've been doing, which is put at where we are today or we can make decisions and changes today that create a better tomorrow."
The two men are members of a statewide task force that's hoping to convince state legislators to sign on to a ten year plan that spends $12.5 million each year on putting 120 new classrooms around the state.
It would make Pre-K education available to all Alabama children who are eligible for the program.

Huntsville city schools started Pre-K programs in all elementary schools last January, but there's only room for 40 percent of children who are eligible for the program.

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