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Extra funding could send your child to preschool for free starting in 2018

(File)

Beginning next year, some Missouri families will be able to send their three and four-year-old children to preschool at no cost.

For the first time since 2010, republican lawmakers fully funded the school finance formula for Missouri public education. These appropriated funds triggered a 2014 law that allows districts to receive money for Pre-K programs.

Communications coordinator Sarah Potter with the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE), said the law allows districts who claim funds for their 3 and 4 year olds to provide free schooling for the equivalent of 4% of the district's students who qualify for free and reduced priced lunch.

"Our thought is they will likely find students who are at risk of not being prepared for kindergarten and create a program for those students," Potter said.

"Because it's not a huge amount of money they are able to recover."

If every district and charter school in the state started Pre-K programs and claimed funds in the 2018-2019 school year, Potter estimates the total cost to be roughly $68 million.

"I think there is concern in the education community that there's enough money to cover all of those students."

"We'll see what happens but we'd really like to see more students be able to enter Pre-K in a formal, high quality way."

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