Gov. Kay Ivey announced Thursday the creation of 164 new classrooms in Alabama’s nationally recognized First Class Pre-K Program, including eight in the Wiregrass.

Three of the classrooms will be in the Dale County Schools system – one each at Ariton, G.W. Long, and Newton elementary schools. Another three will be installed at the Coleman Center for Early Learning and Family Enrichment, which is being constructed at Troy University’s Dothan campus.

Two area preschools – Mother Goose Kindergarten in Dothan and Immanuel Child Development Center in Ozark – complete the local additions.

“Alabama’s First Class Pre-K program is truly the model of the nation,” Ivey said in a press release. “By adding 164 classrooms, we are ensuring more of our youngest learners are getting a strong start to their educational journeys, which will lead them to an even stronger finish in their careers.

“Other states across the country want to emulate what we are doing with early childhood education here in Alabama.”

According to the press release, a new study shows that students who participate in First Class Pre-K are more likely to be proficient in math and reading – with no evidence of decline of benefits over time. The long-term results hold true even after the study controlled for student demographics and other variables such as poverty.

The 164 new classrooms will expand access to the state funded, voluntary pre-kindergarten program to 21,636 children in the 2019-2020 school year and ups the number of classrooms to more than 1,202 classrooms statewide.

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