Centre Daily Times: Centre County kids are benefiting from increased pre-K funding, but statewide gaps still exist
October 28, 2019 by Marley Parish
With help from a boost in state funding, what used to be empty space at the Learning Station is now home to a classroom for 3- and 4-year-olds who receive what director Lynda Mussi calls an “authentic” and high-quality early educational experience.
The increase in pre-K funding in the 2019-20 state budget — a total of $30 million in additional funding for Pre-K Counts and Head Start Supplemental Assistance programs — led to the 3035 Enterprise Drive school receiving a $157,000 grant to create a classroom for up to 20 additional 3- and 4-year-olds.
But while Learning Station has seen a direct benefit from the increased state funding, statewide gaps in pre-K education still exist. In Pennsylvania, 56% of eligible children — 97,702 — do not have access to high-quality pre-K programs, according to Pre-K for PA. Out of the 3,019 pre-K locations eligible to participate, an additional 4,885 pre-K classrooms are still needed to reach Pre-K for PA’s 2022 goal.
“We really want them to have an authentic experience,” Mussi said — noting that 95% of learning occurs between ages 0-5. “And we try to be natural in our supplies … the clocks are hung lower, and the tables and chairs are shorter, so the kids can really see everything from their view.”