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Why universal pre-k won't be coming to Lansing

Posted at 6:01 PM, Feb 07, 2020
and last updated 2020-02-07 19:59:36-05

LANSING, Mich. — A plan to expand pre-kindergarten classes around the state might leave out Mid-Michigan's largest school district.

The expansion is part of the budget proposal Governor Gretchen Whitmer released Thursday.

Governor Whitmer wants to expand pre-k to all 4-year-olds in Michigan.

She said it would provide high-quality education to all families regardless of their financial situation.

The $42 million she proposed spending on the expansion would educate about 5,000 students statewide.

Sam Sinicropi Interim Lansing Schools Superintendent said, " I firmly believe in my experience over the years that once we have a good start it helps them in later years as they go on."

Jennifer Smith of Michigan Association of School Boards said, "You see study after study that the earlier they're reading, to the earlier that they start to learn, the earlier they are in the atmospheres; the better they are as they go forward."

As much as Lansing's Interim Superintendent likes it, he may not get to use it.

Right now, 26 school districts are listed to receive universal pre-k including Detroit, Pontiac and Flint.

So why not Lansing?

Alan Oman, Early Childhood Programs said, "So if Lansing or another community isn't on the list for some reason they did not meet those particular criteria."

Those requirements state 75% of a district's third graders have to be non-proficient on standardized testing, and 75% of the overall student body must be classified as "economically disadvantaged."

That last one only applies to 26% of Lansing's students.

However, the superintendent would still like to be considered.

Sinicropi said,"I'm excited about seeing we would have universal program for all of the state. Even if we were a part of that we would always have room for more. There is always some kids we can't get in because our numbers are limited and our spaces at the moment."

News 10 also checked on Jackson schools and the district doesn't qualify either.

Only 32% of its students are considered economically disadvantaged.

The governor is also proposing a per-pupil increase of at least $150.

Some Republicans say they have issues with her school aid budget plan, but they haven't said yet where they come down on that increase or the pre-k expansion.

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