New bill aims for state-funded Pre-K program - ABC FOX Montana Local News, Weather, Sports KTMF | KWYB

New bill aims for state-funded Pre-K program

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Montana is currently one of only six states without a publicly funded pre-kindergarten option for four-year-olds, but House Bill 563 would change that.

On Monday, Montana’s House of Representatives will hear the bill proposal for the first time, which would create a $12 million preschool grant program, which would specifically allow school districts, Head Start programs, and private providers to offer preschool to 4-year olds whose families are at or below 200% of the federal poverty level.

Sponsor Kathy Kelker said she believes it’s time Montana catches up with the rest of the country.

"What we're talking about here is not daycare,” Kelker said. “It is really a curriculum, and the teachers are assessing the children and tailoring the activities they do in the classroom so that all the kids, however they come into the class, they leave the class with the readiness skills they need."

Kelker also pointed out this will be the first time the grant is proposed on its own.

In previous years, she said, the grant for a state-funded Pre-K program was lumped in with other larger education bills that were tabled as a whole and never made it past appropriation.

This way, she said, on its own it stands a much stronger chance of actually being heard by the legislature.

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