- Associated Press - Wednesday, February 12, 2014

ANNAPOLIS, Md. (AP) - Two legislative committees are ready to take up a bill that would expand prekindergarten to 1,600 more children.

The Senate’s Budget and Taxation Committee and the House Ways and Means Committee are both set to examine the bill in hearings Wednesday.

Gov. Martin O’Malley has budgeted $4.3 million for the project. It would extend prekindergarten to children who are up to 300 percent of the federal poverty level.

Local school systems are currently required to offer public pre-K to 4-year-olds whose families are at or below 185 percent of federal poverty guidelines. In the 2012-13 school year, 26,402 children were enrolled in public school pre-K.

As part of his campaign to succeed O’Malley, Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown is pushing to make prekindergarten universal in Maryland by 2018.

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