Schools tout teamwork to get pre-k in county

State and local officials joined educators in Morgan County to celebrate the opening five state-funded classrooms in Morgan County during a ribbon cutting ceremony at Lacey’s Spring School.

The grants for pre-k classrooms allowed Hartselle City Schools, Morgan County Schools and Decatur City Schools to offer pre-k classes in each of their systems.

“All of us are rightfully proud of our new high-quality, voluntary pre-k classrooms and the local and state partnership that helped make them possible,” said State Sen. Arthur Orr, R-Decatur. “There is no question that our investment should pay dividends to come.”

The grants were announced late this summer for the three school systems.

F.E. Burleson Elementary School received a $82,800 tiered grant. Lacey’s Spring School got a $120,000 first class plus grant while Eva School received a $45,000 Head Start grant.

Decatur also received pre-k grants for Chestnut Grove Elementary School and Head Start Sandlin Road.

In addition to these classrooms, the Morgan County Starting Strong pre-k initiative also raised money to fund two more classrooms, thanks in part to grants from the Morgan County legislative delegation.

John Seymour, president and CEO of the Decatur-Morgan County Chamber of Commerce, said there is still more fundraising left to do.

“We still need $80,000 to help fully fund the rest of the startup costs that we had this year,” Seymour said.

State Rep. Terri Collins, R-Decatur, has been a big supporter of the pre-k initiative in Morgan County. Her hope was to have high-quality pre-k education for every student in Morgan County.

“We not only want to have pre-k education classes for everyone, we want them to be high-quality classrooms,” Collins said. “We want them to have a great environment for learning.”

Allison de la Torre, executive director of the Alabama School Readiness Alliance, said more 4-year-olds have access to high-quality, pre-k education than ever before. She is hoping the legislature will be able to give $12.8 million in fiscal year 2015 and a total of more than $100 million over the next decade.

“There are still far too many children who want to attend, but who cannot snag one of the program’s limited seats,” de la Torre said. “We believe that by incrementally increasing funding for the program, our state can open the doors to high-quality pre-k for all families who want to enroll their children.”

Of the officials on hand for the ribbon cutting included Hartselle Superintendent Dr. Vic Wilson, Morgan County Superintendent Bill Hopkins, State Rep. Ed Henry, R-Hartselle and others.

 

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