The Minnesota Department of Education released a report that 184 school districts and charter schools have completed applications for the Voluntary Pre-Kindergarten program. MREA member districts represent 63 percent of that total with 115 applying.
Applicants will be notified by MDE of their funding status by August 1. View MDE list of Voluntary Pre-K applicants.
Funding and Selection Criteria
The Legislature approved $25 million in new state funds to this new program this past session with 43 percent allocated to rural (non-metro) school districts and charters. The funds are expected to cover only about 6 percent of four year olds, or about 3,700 four year-olds in Minnesota.
MDE is now ranking applicants for approval to see how many applications can be funded. Priority will be given to applicants based on the concentration of kindergarten students eligible for free or reduced-price lunches by school site on October 1 of the previous school year and the absence of a three- or four-star Parent Aware rated child care and Head Start program within the school district or close proximity of the district.
MDE released a ranking of rural school sites for eligibility in this new program. See where you rank. This is a site by site ranking. School districts with more than one elementary may have a highly ranked elementary site and others less highly ranked.
MREA Fall Platform Meetings
Voluntary PreK funding and other approaches to early learning such as Scholarships and School Readiness will be important questions at the Fall Platform Meetings. How much emphasis should MREA place on early learning? Is Vol Pre-K the program that works well for rural districts and should be the focus of MREA advocacy for early learning in 2017 session? 115 applicants tee up the importance of this conversation. Add your voice [sign up for a platform meeting].