High Demand for Pre-K: Hoover Used Lottery System to Choose 90 New Students (ABC 33/40)

High demand for Pre-K: Hoover used lottery system to choose 90 new students

An effort is underway to give more Alabama four-year-olds access to Alabama’s First Class Pre-Kindergarten program.

Demand is high for the nationally ranked program, but spots are limited.

This year, Alabama will add 164 new classrooms statewide.

Five of those new classrooms will be in Hoover elementary schools.

Hoover had 386 parents apply for one of 90 spots available at the five schools. Those granted spots found out on Friday.

Raime Cendoma is one of the 23 percent of parents who applied who was granted a spot.

“When I got the email, I ran into my backyard and told my husband that we got accepted and that he got to be in the pre-k program,” said Cendoma. “And we were so excited. We didn’t know if that was going to be an option for us.”

Hoover was granted $600,000 from the state for the new classrooms.

They’ve already hired the teachers and are beginning to prepare the classrooms.

Dr. Dil Uswatte is principal at Rocky Ridge Elementary, which is where one of the new pre-k classrooms will be.

“This grant will include furbishing or setting up a fully stocked classroom including learning materials for the kids, tables, chairs, you name it,” Uswatte said. “There will not be a need for these kids.”

That’s an opportunity Dr. Uswatte says will set up four-year olds like Cendoma for long-term success.

“What we know is students who are exposed to pre-k programs had a much higher chance of succeeding in school period, not just succeeding in kindergarten but succeeding in school,” said Uswatte.

“For him to be able to learn his letters and sounds and his colors and do some simple math would be really beneficial just in the long run for education,” added Cendoma.

Students who did not win a spot in the lottery are now on a waiting list and could still be admitted.

Hoover saw the high demand and hopes to secure additional funding for more classrooms in the future.

Alabama added $27 million this year for the first class pre-k program.

Still, there is only enough space for 37 percent of eligible four year olds to be part of the program.

The state’s goal is to have enough pre-k classrooms to serve up to 70 percent of eligible children.

A list of all classrooms can be found at: https://children.alabama.gov/parents-families/findprek/