The News Courier in Athens, Alabama

Local News

November 14, 2012

Bentley, others advocate pre-K expansion

— MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) — The governor is adding his voice to business and education leaders calling for an expansion of Alabama's small pre-kindergarten program for 4-year-olds.

Gov. Robert Bentley says he wants to expand pre-K education and considers it more important than the Alabama Reading Initiative.

Bentley's comments to a Birmingham business group came less than a week after the State Board of Education called for an extra $5 million next year. A coalition of business leaders, educators and children's advocates is pushing for an even bigger increase.

The program currently receives $19 million in state funding and serves 6 percent of Alabama's 4-year-olds, or about 3,900 children.

State Senate budget committee Chairman Trip Pittman says officials are looking at where money can be shifted around to expand the voluntary program.

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