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Early Education Funding At Risk

April 17, 2018 05:47 PM

(ABC 6 News) - Schools across the state could lose millions of dollars in early education funding if the legislature doesn't renew the funding this year; Rochester schools alone could lose a total of $650,000.
 
That's why the Deputy Commissioner of the Minnesota Department of Education, Charlene Briner, was in Rochester Tuesday morning.  
 
"We want to make sure that we're not taking steps backward," said Briner as she toured Rochester's Mighty Oaks Early Learning Center.
 
In 2017 Governor Mark Dayton approved one-time early education funding to cover pre-kindergarten enrollment for thousands of children across the state.
 
"That money has been huge for providing services, preschool education for families coming in," said Peggy O’Toole, the program manager for Early Childhood Family Services.
 
Currently, the district is serving nearly 65 children with that money.
 
"We've been able to open up three new classrooms of AM and PM programming for young children. Next year we hope to serve about a hundred or so with that money," said O’Toole.
     
The money will expire after the 2019 school year if the legislature does not renew those funds. 
 
"If it's not renewed and made ongoing, that funding will go away in another year and that's going to leave a lot of families and a lot of children out of this great opportunity," said Briner. 
 
Briner said that lack of funding would limit the chance for children to come to school prepared and ready to learn, "These opportunities in high-quality pre-k are going to set them up for success. They’re going to walk through the door of that kindergarten classroom ready to learn. It’s really important that we find a way to continue this funding and not only to continue it but to expand it."

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