For more information contact: Mike Molzahn 651-296-1774
Press Release from the Office of Governor Dayton:
April 20, 2015
The early learning scholarship proposal introduced last week by the House GOP would reduce the number of early learning scholarships in Minnesota by 5,142 – meaning the number of scholarships available through the program would decline by 41 percent, despite a $1.8 billion surplus.
Governor Mark Dayton is strongly advocating for a two-pronged approach that would expand eligibility for the current scholarship program, and create a universal pre-kindergarten program for all four-year-olds statewide. In the program’s first year, Governor Dayton’s universal prekindergarten proposal would send over 47,300 four-year-olds to preschool. Within just a few years, 57,000 four-year-olds would be enrolled in preschool statewide. Additionally, Governor Dayton has proposed continuing the state’s current $54 million investment in early learning scholarships, and expanding eligibility for kids 0-5 years-old. The Governor’s proposal would preserve scholarships for over 12,500 young learners.
Despite investing more money in the early learning scholarship program, the $30 million House proposal would ELIMINATE scholarships for 5,142 young learners – meaning thousands of kids would lose access to financial assistance for high-quality preschool. In total, the House GOP plan would allow just 7,369 kids to attend preschool. Their plan would provide access to preschool for 52,300 fewer children than Governor Dayton’s proposal.
Even with a $1.8 billion surplus, the House GOP plan would send FEWER kids to preschool.
According to the Minnesota Department of Education, the state currently spends $54 million over the biennium, sending 12,511 kids to early learning programs (5,800 last year and 6,700 this year). Scholarship awards to families are provided in the amounts of $3,000, $4,000, or $5,000, depending on the Parent Aware rating of the provider.
By contrast, the House proposal would increase the scholarship amounts to range between $8,900 and a maximum $10,700 per child. Under the House GOP proposal, with $86.7 million available, an estimated 7,369 scholarships would be available – or 5,142 less than current law. Overall, this reduction in scholarships would represent a 41 percent decline in the number of early learning scholarships available for young learners in Minnesota.
If you have questions about the early learning scholarship proposal, or how many scholarships could be funded under the House or Governor’s proposals, contact Keith Hovis at the Minnesota Department of Education at firstname.lastname@example.org or (651) 582-8275.
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