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House panel gets rundown of the state’s early learning initiatives

There are many state funded initiatives geared toward preparing Minnesota’s youngest citizens for entrance into the school system.

The House Early Childhood Finance and Policy Division heard about four of those programs Thursday from Bobbie Burnham, director of early learning services at the Department of Education.

Two of the programs, Voluntary Pre-Kindergarten and School Readiness Plus, are meant to prepare children for success as they enter kindergarten. Burnham provided an overview and compared the programs’ requirements, enrollment, funding and other key components.

There are currently around 7,160 students enrolled between the two programs, with a waiting list of around 3,000 to 4,000 children. Future enrollment in both programs, but particularly the School Readiness Program, will depend entirely on whether the Legislature decides to extend its one-time funding into the next biennium.  

“We’re looking at, when doing my math correctly, there’s about 4,000 seats that we would lose if we didn’t hold School Readiness Plus funding harmless,” Burnham said.


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