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Lobbyist Money Help  

Preschools awarded grant money

April 26, 1999
By: Jennifer Lutz
State Capital Bureau
Links: HB 1519

JEFFERSON CITY - Gov. Mel Carnahan's plan to provide pre-school, day-care services at public schools will be coming to one or two of Columbia's schools by next school year.

The governor announced Monday that the Columbia Public School District will be awarded a grant to be used for its preschools, yet the exact amount of money the school will receive has not been decided.

In Missouri 134 schools applied for a grant, and 84 applicants were awarded money.

Columbia's school district applied for $273,400, said Stephen Barr, coordinator of the federal program. Anywhere from $7,000 - $30,000 of that amount will come from the start-up grant. Representatives from each the individual school districts and the federal program will negotiate on how much money the school will actually receive.

The Columbia School District wants to use the funds to establish full-day preschools. The first site would be located at Blue Ridge Elementary School and the second location would be at Field Elementary School. The school district does not know at this time which part of the grant was approved.

"The full-day preschool would be created by Title I, the early childhood education and the tuition of parents," said Title I director Mary Humlicek.

Carnahan said he wanted more quality preschools available for children in every community. The programs will provide children with a jump start on their education, he said.

"We were very excited to create this opportunity for children and families," Humlicek said.

Each district's application was read by three committee members, graded and totaled. The schools above a cut off score were thought to be exceptionally good, Barr said. The highest scoring schools in the state were chosen to receive a grant.

"This is a great opportunity for Missouri's kids," Barr said. "Preschool has great affects and the governor and the legislators are supportive of the program."

The school districts will receive the money after July 1.

The program was authorized by the legislature last year with strong backing by the governor's wife, Jean, who told lawmakers the school-based programs would benefit working couples.

Although the bill passed in both the House and the Senate last session, it was met with strong opposition from the Republicans.

The money could be used for a variety of programs including training of staff, purchasing curriculum, preschool equipment or employee's salary, Barr said. Each individual school district had to specifically state in the application what would be purchased.

Humlicek said Columbia schools want to have the full-time preschools in place by the start of the 1999-2000 school year.