Gov. Dayton: Funding falls short of meeting needs of all Minnesota children
By LACI GAGLIANO
Gov. Mark Dayton and the state Department of Education released a list Aug. 4 of statewide public and charter school recipients of prekindergarten education funding. Among the recipients is Robbinsdale Area School District, which has the highest number of expected prekindergarten students, and as such, will receive the highest level of funding in the state.
The Robbinsdale district anticipates 360 students will participate in school-based prekindergarten and School Readiness Plus programs. The Legislature granted $1,887,982 to the district, which is a one-time funding opportunity.
“Robbinsdale Area Schools has been part of the Early Childhood community for the last 43 years,” said Superintendent Carlton Jenkins. “This grant allows us to enhance our participation at another level as we continue to build from our Early Childhood to our Adult programming. We are glad the state’s investment will be combined with our district’s already extensive and historic investment.”
District schools benefiting from the funding will include Meadow Lake, Northport, Lakeview, Sonnesyn, Forest, Noble, and Neill elementary schools. The funding spans the two upcoming school years. The Department of Education defined the use of the funding for increasing the number of 4-year-olds served, the amount of time spent in school, reductions in child-staff ratios, enhancing staff expertise and covering inflation-related costs.
“This grant will give us an opportunity to work with our governor and commissioner and our very own champion, Rep. Lyndon Carlson, to provide an opportunity we know all children deserve,” Jenkins said.
Voluntary prekindergarten enrollment is open to any child who is 4 years old on or after Sept. 1.
Dayton and state legislators were at odds over the funding. The governor’s budget proposal would have secured preschool for all 223 of the applicants for the new school-based funding with $175 million.
Legislators agreed to $50 million in funding over the next two years for the programs.