Vermont Expands Access to Prekindergarten

Vermont Governor Peter Shumlin signed a bill yesterday that will provide funding for universal prekindergarten in the state. In accordance with the law, three- and four-year-olds will have access to at least ten hours per week of publicly funded pre-k at either public or private schools, including schools outside of their district.

State Education Secretary Rebecca Holcombe cited long term benefits – like lower dropout rates, decreased likelihood of criminal activity and higher average income – as justification for the estimated $10 million yearly cost of the program.

Vermont is already one of the 40 states offering some funding for prekindergarten statewide, but will now follow the lead of states like Florida, Georgia and Oklahoma by expanding access to free pre-k to all children regardless of income. Since first allowing school districts to subsidize pre-k programs in 2003, Vermont has seen participation rise from 7 percent among three-year-olds and 10 percent among four-year-olds to 21 percent of three-year-olds and 71 percent of four-year-olds in 2013. With participation well above the national average – 4 percent among three-year-olds and 28 percent among four-year-olds – Vermont will now strive for universal participation.

Source: National Intsitute for Early Education Research