Pre-K Workers Hope New Classrooms Help State’s Education System Ranking (Rocket City Now)

Pre-K workers hope new classrooms help state’s education system ranking

New Pre-K classrooms are getting ready to open their doors for the first time.

It’s thanks to government money to fund more than 160 new classrooms across the state. It’s cut down waiting lists, but there are still hundreds of kids just in Madison County who can’t go to Pre-K because there isn’t enough room.

Alabama’s Pre-K program ranks at the top of the nation and those who work in it hope it will help the rest of the state’s education system catch up.

Tuesday is the last time you’ll see empty shelves at the UAH Early Learning Center’s new Pre-K classroom. Wednesday morning supplies come to fill it up then come the 18 four-year olds they didn’t have room for before.

As other centers add classrooms, the Early Learning Center’s wait list of 65 kids is down to eight.

“I think that the state buying in to these little people and realizing that they’re making a generational change is going to be phenomenal when they get to be middle schoolers and high schoolers,” said Deana Aumalis, director of the Early Learning Center.

It’s a change needed as Alabama’s education system continues to rank toward the bottom nationally. Early education workers hope their programs show what’s possible. Alabama’s Pre-K ranks at the top.

“We want to work with the school system to help the families continue to grow so we don’t have that decline from early childhood education to high school,” said Jessica Scott, assistant director of Head Start.

Statistics show the number of kids enrolled in Pre-K goes up as funding goes up. But in places like Madison City Schools they still have 180 families on the waiting list, according to their public information officer.

“Unfortunately it comes down to money and putting the right people where they need to be,” said Aumalis.

Opening more doors to education to more kids is the start they hope continues to change the story for Alabama schools.

Reports show kids who go through Pre-K score higher in reading and math and are less likely to be chronically absent. Math scores is one of the areas several reports show Alabama failing.