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County selected as pre-K pilot

By By Sherry Digmon
Advance Staff Writer
Escambia County is one of only eight counties selected as a pilot site for Alabama's pre-kindergarten program.
Gov. Don Siegelman announced last week that the pilot sites will be in DeKalb, Escambia, Hale, Lauderdale, Lee, Mobile, Montgomery and Talladega counties.
While the announcement was made that Escambia County will participate in the program, no announcement was made as to which agency will be involved.
Board of Education Superintendent Dr. Margaret Breland-Bradley is confident the school board will be selected.
Dr. Bradley said the Escambia County Board of Education has been part of the talks and plans for a pre-K program. Dr. Ed Raulerson, Dr. Will Baker and Ruth Harrell are three members of a rural health task force who, along with Dr. Bradley, have been meeting once a month to discuss changing the educational status in Escambia County.
This pre-K program may be the means for some students to get that early start. The program will begin with 20 students.
Dr. Bradley said the first class size is small because it is a pilot program. If successful, most certainly it will grow and spread to other counties and school systems.
One of the best parts of the program is that it costs the board of education nothing.
The eight sites will be funded by public and private funds. Lucent Technologies donated $100,000 to help the program get started. The state government is contributing $600,000 and is trying to raise $200,000 more from the private sector.
Each county will get $100,000 to set up a classroom for 20 children.
But when opportunity knocks, when the state offers the program to the board of education, the board will have to answer, Dr. Bradley said.