Vt. wins $37M in early learning grants - WCAX.COM Local Vermont News, Weather and Sports-

Vt. wins $37M in early learning grants

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Vermont administrators will spend the rest of the week and weekend sifting through a 450-page grant award.

Gov. Peter Shumlin says he doesn't know all the details yet, but says the value of $37 million additional dollars for the education of Vermont's youngest can't be denied.

"We get better outcomes. We save money," said Shumlin, D-Vermont.

Five other states will also receive tens of millions of dollars through President Barack Obama's race to the top program.

In Vermont, the funds will be spent over four years and be used for nearly 40 programs, ranging from home visits for new parents to rewards for the state's best facilities and teachers.

"It was the best Christmas gift I could ever receive," said Rep. Sarah Buxton, D-Royalton.

Buxton sponsored legislation last session to provide pre-K access to every Vermont child. This grant would not directly make that a reality, but she says the benefits of the federal investment will be felt long after the money is spent.

"When we talk about investment and we talk about spending in education, what we don't often refer to is the amount of money that we save," Buxton said.

She says those savings are often seen in a reduced need for remediation and special education at later learning levels.

"We know that our challenge is that we are not moving enough low-income kids beyond high school," Shumlin said.

This summer the governor said he would support a bill for universal pre-K if the money made sense; it's unclear if the grant will provide him the dollars and political momentum to do so.

Spokespeople for Governor Shumlin did not respond to our question regarding whether he has decided to publicly support universal pre-K this year. He has a press conference scheduled for Monday when he is expected to further outline exactly how Vermont will spend the $37 million.

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