Big prekindergarten expansion begins across Minnesota

Thousands of 4-year-olds in Minnesota are attending prekindergarten classes this fall as the result of a $25 million investment made by the Legislature. With this money, the state targets aid for school districts and charter schools that serve high numbers of low-income students as well as areas with limited access to high-quality prekindergarten programs.

These districts and schools then provide free, voluntary prekindergarten to 4-year-olds. Through another program, Minnesota also offers Early Learning Scholarships for low-income families (either directly to families or through grants to highly rated early-childhood programs in the state). Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton has said he wants to provide all of the state’s 4-year-olds with access to free, voluntary prekindergarten. A little more than 3,300 students will attend prekindergarten programs as a result of the $25 million legislative investment. However, 60 percent of the requests for state aid from districts and charter schools were denied due to a lack of available funding. 

In the Midwest, Wisconsin leads the way in providing learning opportunities to 4-year-olds; more than 95 percent of that state’s school districts offer a “4K” kindergarten program.
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Stateline Midwest: September 20162.31 MB