A bill inflowing the state House of Representatives on Monday would make a voluntary preschool program for 4 year olds from poorer income families.
House Bill 563, or the Montana Preschool Grant Program, would bounce children who succeed access to what Rep. Kathy Kelker, D-Billings, speaks is high-quality preschool education.
“This is not baby-sitting, this is not day care, this is with a qualified teacher who has a family in early childhood,” she added.
It would charge the state about $6 million a year. The money would come from the state’s general fund and offer grants to school districts, which Kelker states they could use to either offer the service themselves, or work with pre-existing programs, like Head Start.
Democratic Gov. Steve Bullock utters Montana is one of six states that does not provide state funding for pre-K education.
Bullock revealed a budget suggestion in November that termed for $12 million to promote a pre-kindergarten program for 4-year-olds, which is a scaled-down version of his proposed $37 million “Early Edge” program that the Legislature excluded in 2014.
The funds would let school districts, Head Start platforms, and high-quality preschool providers to offer preschool for 4-year-old kids at or below 200 percent of the Federal Poverty Level.
Bullock articulates he’s taking a page from Alabama’s First Class Pre-K program. That state’s Secretary of Early Childhood Education Jeana Ross said its program serves a quarter of their 4-year-olds, and acquires more than $60 million a year in state funding.
Chair of the House Education Committee, Seth Berglee, R-Joliet, alleged the price tag of House Bill 563 is one concern of his. He also pronounces in general, these types of programs could bound private schools that now teach preschool.
“I don’t want to hurt private providers that are providing this education now for people to fund a state program on top of that,” he told. Sen. Fred Thomas, R-Stevensville, who aids as Senate majority leader, said he was unsure early education would make the concluding cut.
“We’re having concerns with the budget we have at present without totaling $12 million,” he believed, toting that “before we presents, down another track we’re working hard to do what needs to be done before doing whatever news.”
To qualify for the program under the bill, families would essentially to be below 200 percent of the deficiency level. Kelker states for a family of four, that would be around $49,000 a year.