Dale County Schools pick 54 students for three new pre-K classroom


Dale county pre-k classroom
SUBMITTED BY DALE COUNTY SCHOOLSBrand new furniture and equipment is being set up in Newton Elementary’s new state-funded pre-K classroom.



In less than two years, the Dale County school district went from having no pre-K classrooms to having four.

Superintendent Ben Baker piloted the program after writing the initial grant and being awarded funds for an Alabama First Class Pre-Kindergarten class in Midland City Elementary School in January 2018.

“Pre-K was a priority and a goal for my administration,” Baker said. After apparent success with the program, Baker decided to write grants for all the communities the Dale County school system serves through the Office of School Readiness within the Alabama Department of Early Childhood Education.

All of Baker’s requests were approved, along with 161 other pre-K classrooms throughout Alabama.

Ariton High School, G.W. Long Elementary School, and Newton Elementary will all feature a state-funded pre-K classroom in the fall. Grants are valued at $120,000 for each classroom.

Tuesday night, a lottery was held to determine the 54 students to take those seats out of the 83 who applied. Newton had 20 to register, G.W. Long had 33, and Ariton had 30. Baker drew all names so a list of alternates could be determined in the order in which their name was drawn. Students selected will be placed on a list and notified if they did not attend the drawing.

“Again, besides the over $10 million in construction projects, this has been one of the best accomplishments of my administration,” Baker said.

In recent years, Alabama’s nationally recognized pre-K program has grown with strong support from Gov. Kay Ivey, who approved funding for 107 new pre-k classrooms.

The most recent additions will expand access to the program to 21,636 children in the 2019-2020 school year and increases the number of classrooms to more than 1,202 statewide.

“We appreciate the State Legislature increasing funds for the Alabama Pre-K program,” Baker said. “It makes a difference in a child’s development and academic growth and we’re excited to be able to provide that to the children in Dale County.”

For the 13th consecutive year, Alabama’s voluntary pre-kindergarten program has been recognized as providing the highest quality of early education in America in the 2017-2018 school year, determined by the National Institute for Early Education Research.