On August 8th, Governor Dayton announced that an additional 3,302 four-year old students in 64 school districts and 10 chartered schools, will have the opportunity to attend pre-kindergarten this fall for free due to an increase of $25 million in state funding approved during the 2016 legislative session.
The ten chartered schools will receive $1,966,342, or 7.8 percent of the funds, which will serve an estimated 237 students. The amount is roughly proportionate to the 7 percent of Pre-K students in the state served by charters. Table 1 illustrates the chartered schools, estimated number of Pre-K students to be served, and the amount awarded.
Table 1: Chartered schools receiving award money for Pre-K
|District Name||Est. Number of Pre-K Students||State Funding Award|
|Academia Cesar Chavez||40||$356,934|
|Achieve Language Academy||40||$293,390|
|Aurora Charter School||20||$171,902|
|Cedar Riverside Community School||20||$180,748|
|Community of Peace Academy||38||$303,697|
|Excell Academy Charter||30||$238,433|
|New Discoveries Montessori Academy||6||$72,238|
|St. Paul City School||23||$205,979|
While the new funding is a step forward, many were shocked by the number of school districts and chartered schools that did not receive funding. According to Dayton, of the 183 school districts and chartered schools that applied, 109 or 60 percent did not receive funding. Full funding would have covered an additional 6,837 students.
In response to the high percentage of school districts and chartered schools not receiving award money, Dayton called for more pre-kindergarten funding: “Minnesota schools and families want voluntary pre-kindergarten, and our children need it to succeed. But without additional funding, thousands of kids will be denied educational opportunities they need to achieve their greatest potentials.”
Minnesota trails other states with regard to access to and enrollment in pre-kindergarten. According to a 2015 report published by Education Week’s Research Center, Minnesota ranked last in the country for enrollment in full-day preschool programs. At the time, only 47.6 percent of the state’s three-and-four year olds were enrolled in pre-kindergarten.
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