Local Districts Allocated State Pre-K Funds

Gov. Dayton Set Aside $175 Million to Fund Pre-K Statewide

VIRGINIA, Minn. – Studies say Pre–K is essential to children’s development which is why Gov. Mark Dayton wants to make sure as many as 17,000 4-year-olds can attend Pre–K.

“We can do more good to benefit the kids than we can when the kids are older,” said Virginia School Superintendent Dr. Noel Schmidt.

Dr. Schmidt isn’t the only one over the moon.

“We are just so excited that he thought this was important,” said Shanon Kush-Jeffery, Early Childhood Coordinator for the Virginia School District.  “We know our community is really invested, so they knew it was important.”

This year, Virginia funded its brand new Parkview Learning Center with money from the general fund; a trend officials say couldn’t continue.

“We do have enough funding to probably do one more year, but then we’d have to look at fees for families coming in,” said Kush-Jeffery.  “That creates a hardship for families, having to figure out how to pay for their child’s schooling.”

However, Virginia is one of 74 school districts state–wide set to get a share of $175 Million set aside by the Governor specifically for Pre–K funding.  If these funds are approved, Virginia’s Pre–K is set to receive more than $1.3 Million.  Funds that will keep programs like this going strong.

In St. Louis County alone, eight school districts could get a total of more than $7.3 Million.

“The big winners on this really are kids,” said Schmidt.  “We can provide more programming for kids and have the Pre–K funding be there.”

With this money, Virginia can buy educational materials, additional curriculum and perhaps most importantly, additional Pre-K teachers.

“That’s kind of been a burden for us,” said Kush-Jeffery.

If the state can ease the burden on districts like Virginia, the winners are the kids.

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