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Expanded pre-school program kicks off

Sarah Hulett
Michigan Radio

Today is the first day of pre-school for many four-year-olds in Michigan. And thousands of them are getting a chance they might not otherwise have had, thanks to an expansion of a state program.

Susan Broman is a deputy superintendent at the Michigan Department of Education, and she oversees the Great Start Readiness Program. Broman says pre-school has a great return on investment.

"I mean, the reality is we know that high-quality pre-school is a proven strategy to significantly improve kindergarten readiness, grade-school reading and math proficiency," she said.

She says lawmakers agreed this year to hike funding for the program by $65 million because it works.

"What we've found is that kids who are in the GSRP program are more likely to graduate on time and do not repeat grades as often as kids who are not enrolled in the GSRP program,” she said.

Governor Rick Snyder hopes to boost funding by another $65 million dollars next year. She says that would allow the state to accommodate all the four-year-olds who qualify for the program. Families that make less than 250% of the federal poverty level qualify. That's about $59,000 a year for a family of four.

Sarah Hulett is Michigan Radio’s Director of Amplify & Longform, helping reporters to do their best work.