Study Recommends More Money for Arkansas' Pre-K Programs

MARCH 24, 2006 - Posted at 7:45 a.m. CST

LITTLE ROCK, AR - Only about one-third of the children who are eligible for statewide pre-kindergarten programs are participating in the program, a non-profit group said in a newly-released report.

The non-profit Southern Education Foundation, based in Atlanta, recommended in a report that Arkansas increase its funding for pre-kindergarten programs by about $20 million for the 2006-2007 school year.

The study said that, at the beginning of 2006, Arkansas had approximately 14,360 pre-kindergarten students throughout the state.  The number represents only 30 percent of the three and four-year-olds eligible for the program by law and only 20 percent of all three and four-year-olds in the state.

In 2003, the Legislature established a statewide system of voluntary pre-kindergarten for low-income children.  The state currently pays about $71 million for the program.

(The Associated Press contributed to this report.)