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ND Gov. Jack Dalrymple signs bill providing $3 million in state grants to pre-k programs

BISMARCK, N.D. — Gov. Jack Dalrymple today signed into law a bill that provides $3 million in state grants to pre-kindergarten programs serving low-income children.

"This legislation is a great start," Gov. Dalrymple said. "We're confident that the people of North Dakota will realize the value of this program and that it will grow to benefit more children in the future."

Senate Bill 2152 provides grants for qualified pre-kindergarten programs that serve children who are at least 4 years old and qualify for free or reduced-price lunches. The pre-kindergarten programs, which are voluntary, must be approved by the Department of Public Instruction to be eligible for grants.

The bill also calls for school superintendents to organize meetings with community pre-kindergarten and licensed child-care providers to coordinate the development of cost-effective early childhood education programs.

"Today is a historic day for North Dakota's young children," said Kirsten Baesler, state superintendent of public instruction.

"I am proud of the work of the Early Childhood Care and Education Study committee who played an important role in the development of a community plan," Baesler said. "I am grateful to the diverse group of stakeholders who came together on a consensus bill and advocated strongly for it. I am thankful to the legislators who voted for this bill at a time of hard decisions on our state budget."

Sen. Tim Flakoll, R-Fargo, a bill sponsor, expects good participation.

"It includes parental involvement in the curriculum, and while it is an optional program we think there will be a high number of children who participate in the program. The program is also flexible in allowing parents the option to send their children to either a public or private provider," Flakoll said.

Helmut Schmidt

Helmut Schmidt was born in Germany, but grew up in the Twin Cities area, graduating from Park High School of Cottage Grove. After serving a tour in the U.S. Army, he attended the University of St. Thomas in St Paul, Minn., graduating in 1984 with a degree in journalism. He then worked at the Albert Lea (Minn.) Tribune and served as managing editor there for three years. He joined The Forum in October 1989, working as a copy editor until 2000. Since then, he has worked as a reporter on several beats, including education, Fargo city government, business and military affairs. He is currently The Forum's K-12 education reporter.

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