Missouri lawmakers proposing bill to increase Pre-K funding - WGEM.com: Quincy News, Weather, Sports, and Radio

Missouri lawmakers proposing bill to increase Pre-K funding

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HANNIBAL, Mo. (WGEM) -

Many young children in the Tri-States are getting a late start on their education.  School districts have been forced to cut funding for Pre-K in recent years, but in Missouri they're now talking about boosting funding for early childhood education.  

A St. Louis State Senator said spending millions on Pre-K will save the state money in the long run, especially if the state doesn't have to pay for students to repeat courses.  While parents and educators aren't holding their breath on this funding, they know the impact it's having on young children.

Hannibal mom Kristen Akright said she's seen a dramatic difference in her son ever since he started Pre-K.

"He has grown tremendously.  He has learned so much. His letters and just the social aspect of it. Being around other children and the way that he acts. I mean it's a tremendous change," she said.  

Superintendent Jill Janes said the Hannibal school district receives about $170,000 in state funding for Pre-K.  That allows Hannibal to serve about 160 children ages three to five.  Early Childhood Center Director Meghan Karr said more funding could take the program to new levels.

"Well more money opens more doors.  In education along with any other field, education's constantly evolving and there's always new and exciting things to try, and implementing some of those new things would be wonderful," she said.  

Karr realizes the PreK funding proposal may be a long shot, but said the fact lawmakers are even considering it shows the importance of early childhood education.  Akright agrees and says she hopes more young children have the opportunity to get a head start on their education.

"I think schools definitely need that funding instead of the budget cuts. They need to be funded so children can get those opportunities to learn because they need that," she said.

Many lawmakers say they like the plan to boost funding for Pre-K, but they doubt the state can afford it.  The republican leadership says lawmakers need to address the current school funding formula for public education first.

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