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Lt. Governor Brown, County Executive Kamenetz Visit Hernwood Elementary School Prekindergarten Program

Officials Highlight $720,500 PreK Expansion in Baltimore County

RANDALLSTOWN, Md. – Today, in recognition of the new school year, Lt. Governor Anthony G. Brown joined Baltimore County Executive Kevin Kamenetz, County Superintendent of Schools Dr. Dallas Dance, and Maryland State Education Association President Betty Weller for a visit to Hernwood Elementary, one of several Baltimore County Public Schools that benefited from $4.3 million in statewide Prekindergarten Expansion Grants announced in July. The grant program is made possible by the O’Malley-Brown Administration’s Prekindergarten Expansion Act of 2014 (SB 332), which Lt. Governor Brown led the effort to pass during this year’s legislative session. Under the expansion, the State is partnering with local providers and schools systems across the state to expand high-quality full and half day pre-K to another 1,563 children.

"With our investment to expand pre-K programs in Baltimore County and across the state, we’re taking an important step towards our goal of providing universal, voluntary pre-K for all of Maryland’s families," said Lt. Governor Brown. "Every child, in each of our communities, deserves the opportunity to get a world class education, and by enrolling an additional 1,563 kids in high quality pre-K, we’re helping more of our students climb the ladder of opportunity towards success and continuing to close our state’s achievement gap."

Baltimore County received a total of about $720,500 for various program models, including over $270,000 for public school based programs, such as Hernwood Elementary. This investment will expand half or full-day pre-K to approximately 180 additional children in the County.

“There is little doubt that early childhood education is the key to educational success for many children,” said County Executive Kamenetz. “Lieutenant Governor Anthony Brown’s support of universal, voluntary pre-K will make a real difference in the lives of children in Baltimore County.”

Prior to the Prekindergarten Expansion Grant award, Hernwood had one morning pre-K section for four year olds that accommodated only 20 students and was not been able to provide seats for all economically disadvantaged (priority 1) students that qualified. With the increased funding, the school now has an afternoon section making those seats available and is able to provide access to all Hernwood families that meet the economic criteria.

The Prekindergarten Expansion Act of 2014 (SB 332) builds on the State’s existing pre-K system and expands the number of pre-K slots available to include Maryland children whose families make up to 300 percent of the Federal Poverty Guidelines. The bill represents the first step toward expanding pre-K to all Maryland children by establishing a competitive Pre-Kindergarten Expansion Grant Program and Fund through which local school systems and local providers were able apply to establish, expand and enhance existing pre-K programs and highly effective Judy Centers. Recipients were selected by the Maryland State Department of Education (MSDE) following the application process which began in April.

"Research indicates that early education is the best investment Maryland can make to prepare children for success in school and in life," said State Superintendent of Schools Dr. Lillian Lowery. "The Prekindergarten Expansion Grant program is providing more children with a great start to their education, reducing gaps in achievement and will pay dividends for our State for decades to come."

A 2007 study by the Economic Policy Institute found that in Maryland, revenues to the State Treasury would increase more than $2 for every $1 spent on early education. The overall return on investment on general economic activity is predicted to be 8.7 times the amount invested. This is due to the fact that investments in early education help children succeed later in life and reduce the likelihood that a child will end up needing government assistance or spending time in a correctional facility. (“Enriching Children, Enriching the Nation Maryland Summary,” Lynch, Economic Policy Institute, July 2007)

“Maryland has made incredible progress over the last decade in closing the achievement gap,” said MSEA President Betty Weller. “Expanding our pre-k program is a smart, research-backed method for further closing existing gaps and better preparing all of our children to achieve and excel in school.”

Despite making more cuts to state spending than any previous administration, Governor O’Malley and Lt. Governor Brown have chosen to protect targeted investments in priorities like education and job creation. The FY2015 budget builds on Maryland’s #1 school ranking and paves the way to global competitiveness for our children. It includes a record $6.12 billion investment in K-12 education, which is an increase of 37 percent compared to FY2007. In addition to the $4.3 million for additional Pre-K opportunities, the Administration will invest $289 for the Public School Construction Program, bringing the O’Malley-Brown Administration’s average annual investment to the highest ever at $345 million.