3 more K-4 classrooms added for next year

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Nearly 50 additional 4-year-olds in Covington County will have the opportunity to experience Alabama’s First Class Pre-K program beginning in the fall.

Opp Elementary School was selected for an additional K-4 classroom, while Pleasant Home School and Straughn Elementary School received their first programs.

“We are very excited about it,” said PHS Principal Craig Nichols. “This is the first year we applied.”

Straughn Elementary School Principal Bettye Anne Older was excited, as well.

“This is going to be really great for our community,” she said. “This program is designed to make our students more school-ready. I am really happy for our students.”

Older and Nichols plan to discuss how to proceed today.

In Opp, Assistant Superintendent Emily Edgar was anxious to get to work preparing for her second classroom.

“We are super excited,” she said. “We are going to open up registration again to get more students. I will set a date and we will draw for both classrooms.”

Most recently, OCS has charged on a sliding scale based on income for the Pre-K program, but Edgar said the grant funds will allow for free program participation.

Each classroom will serve between 16 and 18 students depending on the needs of the students, and each classroom will have a teacher and an aide.

Each program will receive $82,800.

That brings the total countywide to six K-4 classrooms.

There are already programs at Red Level Elementary, Andalusia Elementary and another classroom at OES.

The three new programs are among 202 new programs in the state, which brings the grand total statewide to 612 classrooms.

Statewide funding has increased $10 million from the current fiscal year to $48.5 million.

Some 410 applications were received for First Class Pre-K classrooms for next school year.

State officials say that’s the largest number of grant requests the department of children’s affairs has received.

“The most important part of a child’s education is a good, solid foundation at a young age, and our First Class voluntary Pre-K program provides that,” Gov. Robert Bentley said. “All children, regardless of where they live, deserve the opportunity to excel.”