Long school waitlists for pre-K students

Pre-K expansion issues in Alabama

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WBRC) - School systems in Jefferson County are getting ready for the new school year. This include pre-kindergarten classes.

In Jefferson County there are a dozen different schools with pre-K programs. With additions this year, there are 22 pre-K classrooms that can accept about 396 students.

“Its developmentally appropriate. We have a nine to one ratio in the classroom. So the kids are getting one-on-one attention. Our pre-K’s are housed in the schools so they can get acclimated to school that they are going to attend in kindergarten,” said Kelly West with Federal Program Specialist Pre-K.

Jefferson County Schools had a waiting list of about 20 at their smallest school. The largest waiting list is 60 at Hueytown.

There is good news for Birmingham’s Pre-K program.

“We have twenty something spots because we just got four new grants,” said Arlene Williams, Director of Early Learning for Birmingham Schools.

Birmingham has 840 enrolled in Pre-K right now. The school system hopes to add 20 more thanks to new grants.

The city’s property tax has helped fund the program. But the school system still has to get the word out to some parents.

“The need for the program is heavy. Getting the parents to register on time has been an issue,” Williams said.

So why is it so hard to get in? Educators agree there are limited spots because funding and teacher student ratios. School systems know the demand will only grow next year.

“I know the demand will be more so. Parents are starting to be aware, their boys and girls, their social social skills. Cognitive development. The physical development,” Williams said.

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