Last Wednesday, Sen. Shay Shelnutt (SD-17) and Rep. David Standridge (HD- 34) joined state and local school officials, parents and pre-K advocates from the Alabama School Readiness Alliance for a ribbon cutting ceremony of Blount County’s only pre-K classroom at Appalachian School.
Having only one pre-K classroom in the county limits the number of students that can be reached. Appalachian serves 18 pre-K students, which is only seven percent of Blount County 4-year-olds. This is the lowest percentage of any county in the state.
Managed by the Alabama Department of Early Childhood Education, the pre-K program enrolls 28 percent of 4-year-olds statewide.
For 11-years in a row, according to the National Institute for Early Childhood Education, the pre-kindergarten program has been ranked number one in the country for quality.
Rep. Standridge said, “The state legislature has invested millions of dollars into expanding the Alabama First Class Pre-K program so that more families can have an opportunity to participate. Blount County has an even greater need for high quality pre-K than much of the state, and I am happy to see a new classroom get started here.”
Allison Muhlendorf, executive director of Alabama School Readiness Alliance said, “Students who participate in Alabama’s First Class Pre-K program outperform their peers in reading and math in every grade. It is crucial that leaders continue to increase First Class Pre-K investments until every family in Blount County and across Alabama has access to this proven program.”
Following the ribbon cutting ceremony, officials visited the pre-K classroom and participated in some hands-on learning with the students.