Louisiana is set to receive up to $32 million in federal grant money over four years to improve preschool access for low-income children across the state. The U.S. Department of Education announced Wednesday that Louisiana is one of 18 states getting grants aimed at giving more educational opportunities for at-risk children. State Superintendent of Education John White says Louisiana is guaranteed $2.4 million for one year. The award can grow to $32 million over four years, if the state meets terms of the grant.
Department of Education spokesperson Barry Landry says three factors determined what districts would be included in the grant application. "Parent demand was one issue. Communities where parents wanted to enroll, but the system could not fill that demand" said Landry. A community network pilot, and a high number of children in poverty within a designated “high need” community were other considerations of the grant.
Six districts have been selected in the first year of funding. Two northeast Louisiana school systems, Monroe City and Lincoln Parish, are in the first round of grants. Landry says districts selected had an enrollment process in place to readily accommodate new students in pre-K programs.
Other districts receiving first year funds are Caddo, Iberville, Orleans, and Rapides Parish. The federal money provides an additional 4,500 seats for 4 year olds in the state. The grant cycle begins in the 2015-16 school year.