Ard, Collins lead partnership to expand Pre-K access
Under the leadership of co-chairs Decatur City Council member Chuck Ard and State Rep. Terri Collins of the Decatur-Morgan County Chamber of Commerce’s Quality Education Committee, the Chamber’s Starting Strong pre-K initiative has added 29 new pre-K classrooms in Morgan County since 2012 thanks to funding secured through the State of Alabama and local private fundraising. That effort brings the current number of classrooms up to 40 for the 2018-2019 school year, serving approximately 720 four-year-olds.
Rep. Collins announced this week funding in the amount of $40,849 towards the current school year.
Starting Strong – a partnership between the Chamber Quality Education Committee, the Decatur/Morgan County Minority Development Association, the United Way of Morgan County, Community Action Partnership of North Alabama, Decatur and Hartselle City Schools, Morgan County Schools, the City of Decatur, and local business and community leaders – began in 2010 with the goal of making available early childhood education opportunities to anyone in Morgan County regardless of their ability to pay. Classrooms are located in schools, non-profits, churches, private child care centers and Head Start facilities.
“With funds obtained through the State and local contributions over the past eight years, the committee has helped created an environment where each Morgan County child has an opportunity to start on a solid foundation in a classroom,” said John Seymour, president and chief executive officer of the Chamber. “Years of data and research tell us children who begin their education in a pre-k curriculum outperform their peers who don’t begin in that setting.”
The addition of these pre-k classrooms is also a critical component of The Partnership, the Chamber’s five-year initiative. The Partnership is a community and business development strategy where the Board of Directors and teams of business leaders will focus on making strides in four critical areas: residential development; regional partnerships and community image; business and industry-driven talent development and recruitment; and business and industry partnerships with education.
“A strong educational environment starting in pre-k up to high school graduation is the most significant factor in economic development today,” said Seymour. “With the Chamber’s dedication to our school systems, along with our focus on talent development and recruitment, it is imperative we have a community commitment to do everything we can to prepare the next generation workforce.”
For more information about getting involved with the Chamber’s education and talent development efforts, please contact the Chamber’s Amber Fortenberry, director of talent development and recruitment, at (256) 353-5312.
(photo courtesy of The Decatur Daily)