FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Committee Hears Statewide Preschool Bill
Legislation would establish a statewide early childhood education plan
JUNEAU – Despite recent proposals to stop funding Alaska’s preschool pilot program, the House Education Committee today heard Rep. Kawasaki’s legislation (HB154) to establish a statewide education plan for Alaska preschools.
“Pre-K education has proven to pay big dividends to both students and state budgets,” said Rep. Kawasaki (D-Fairbanks). “We’re simply asking the Department of Education and Early Development to develop an education plan for bringing these benefits to Alaskans.”
The legislation directs the Alaska Department of Education and Early Development to develop a statewide early education plan for three and four-year-olds based on guidelines to be developed by the Board of Education. The bill directs these guidelines to assure that a state preschool plan would be cost-effective and allow for coordination with existing pre-kindergarten programs such as Head Start.
Developing this plan would pave the way for the state to provide optional preschool education statewide. The bill requires the Department to provide a report to the Legislature by January 15, 2012 so the Legislature will have the information available to make decisions about how to advance preschool education in Alaska.
“Pre-K is a wise investment, and Alaska needs a plan to make it work for us,” said Rep. Kawasaki.
The committee heard HB 154 and held it for more consideration at a later date.