MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Minnesota Governor Mark Dayton is warning that pre-Kindergarten programs could be in jeopardy for thousands of 4-year-olds.
But Republican leaders accuse the Democratic Governor of “panicking” parents preparing for the next school year.
As Gov. Dayton prepares to leave office next year, he says pre-K programs serving 4,000 students could be eliminated if Republican leaders don’t provide permanent funding now.
“So they can have tax breaks for premium cigars and for multi-millionaire estates, and we don’t have enough money to provide a quality learning experience for 4-years olds? It’s shameful!,” Dayton said.
The governor listed 59 districts around the state he says will lose pre-K money and their programs, including Bloomington, where one elementary school principal said she’ll lose 60 pre-schoolers in just one year.
“If we lose $280,000 — which means dramatically limiting the number of students who will be able to attend my pre-school — it will hurt us. It will hurt our kids,” principal Cori Thompson of Valley View Elementary said.
But Republicans accuse the Governor of needlessly panicking parents. Pre-K is funded through this school year, and the next. It’s 2020 when the money runs out.
“Working together, we have increased opportunity for families to have quality childhood and preschool programs for their children,” Rep. Jennifer Loon (R) of the Education Finance Committee said. “And none of that is in danger.”
Minnesota pre-K is voluntary, but more than 6,000 4-year olds are now enrolled. Next year, that number is expected to grow to 7,000 children.