State Allocates Funding for a New Pre-Kindergarten Class in DeKalb County

July 24, 2007
by: 
Dwayne Page

DeKalb County is getting a new Pre-Kindergarten Class.

Governor Phil Bredesen and State Representative Frank Buck Tuesday announced that 257 new pre-K classrooms will open for the 2007-08 school year serving approximately 4,000 additional four-year-olds across the state.

Director of Schools Mark Willoughby says plans are for the new Pre-K class to be started at Smithville Elementary School. With the addition of the new class, DeKalb County will have a total of five Pre-K classrooms, including four at Smithville Elementary School and one at DeKalb West School.

Eligible children must be four years of age by September 30th, and their parents must meet the federal income guidelines.

Each Pre-K class may have up to twenty students. At least sixteen students per class must be enrolled by September 30th in order for the school system to retain available funds for the program.

Governor Bredesen requested $25 million new state dollars to expand Tennessee’s Voluntary Pre-K Program, raising the investment for the 2007-08 school year to $80 million. Dekalb County Schools will receive $89,909 to fund one new classroom.

“We have expanded access to our quality pre-K program from serving 3,000 students three years ago to 17,000 today,” Governor Bredesen said. “This commitment to early childhood education means over the last three years, we’ve helped nearly 40,000 boys and girls start their education on a path designed to help them achieve academically in the long run. Tennesseans want more students to graduate from high school; the task starts with making sure students start out on the right foot from day one.”

Tennessee’s Voluntary Pre-K Program now operates in 94 out of 95 counties and 133 of 136 school systems, providing a high-quality early childhood education to more than 17,000 four-year-olds. The National Institute for Early Education Research has ranked Tennessee as one of six states maintaining the highest pre-K standards in the nation for the past two years.

“Pre-K is the foundation of a strong educational system,” said Representative Buck. “We must ensure that our children graduate on time and with the skills they need to succeed. Pre-K is critical to ensuring this success.”

The trademarks of Tennessee’s high-quality pre-K program include:

o a staff to student ratio of 1:10;

o a lead teacher with a Bachelor’s degree and endorsement in early childhood education

o 18 hours of professional development required for staff each year; and

o a maximum class size of 20 students.

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