- Associated Press - Wednesday, December 10, 2014

HELENA, Mont. (AP) - Montana was awarded a $10 million federal grant Wednesday to help develop preschool programs for 4-year-olds from low- and moderate-income families.

The money will help preschools in 16 communities, Gov. Steve Bullock and Superintendent of Public Instruction Denise Juneau said.

The grant was announced as President Barack Obama said a public-private partnership would spend $1 billion on programs for young learners nationwide.

Montana will use its grant for teacher scholarships and training and to expand access to early-education programs, Bullock and Juneau said in a written statement.

The grant will build on existing early literacy programs in Montana. Officials hope those programs can be models for others to be launched over the duration of the grant.

The grant lasts one year but can be renewed for up to four years.

The initial Montana programs will be in Anaconda, Bozeman, Box Elder, Browning, Butte, Crow Agency, Great Falls, Hardin, Helena, Kalispell, Lame Deer, Lewistown, Libby, Pablo/Ronan, Rocky Boy and Wolf Point.

Federal officials said the grants are intended to establish or expand preschool programs in diverse populations, from urban neighborhoods to tribal areas.

“Every Montana family, regardless of where they live, should have the opportunity to send their child to a high-quality early childhood educational program that ensures they are kindergarten-ready,” Bullock said.

Bullock also has requested $37 million from the Legislature to fund early childhood education for 4-year-olds. Block grants would be available to every public school district to create or expand programs.

Montana was one of five states awarded about $56 million in federal grants Wednesday to develop preschool programs. All had small state-funded preschools or none at all.

Thirteen other states will get a total of about $170 million to expand existing preschool programs.

Thirty-six states applied for the grants.


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