TALLAHASSEE (CBSMiami/NSF) — Florida was not among a group of nine states to receive a $100 million federal grant for early learning.
In October, Florida was among 35 states that submitted applications for the Race to the Top stimulus funding. Florida wanted the money to bolster voluntary pre-kindergarten programs. The state spent $385 million on voluntary pre-kindergarten this fiscal year for over 165,000 students, which was a reduction from the year before.
Florida's Office of Early Learning was seeking the grant to partner with private businesses in programs for high-risk children.
However, Florida did not receive the grant. The nine states chosen were California, Delaware, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, North Carolina, Ohio, Rhode Island, and Washington State.
States winning the grants had to demonstrate a commitment to making early learning programs more accessible, coordinated and effective.
Florida previously received a $700 million Race to the Top grant for its public schools.
Florida Governor Rick Scott called the decision not to grant Florida the money "unfortunate" because it would have gone to the benefit of at-risk children.
"When Florida's application was submitted for the grant in October, we made it clear that we would not accept grant money with strings attached, additional state spending obligations, or requirements that created new burdensome regulations on private providers. We stuck to our principles, and unfortunately our insistence against irresponsibly using one-time dollars for recurring government programs did not win the favor of the administration in Washington," said Gov. Scott in a statement released Friday.
"Creating a world-class education system that prepares students for the workforce is my top priority. We will accomplish this goal for the benefit of our current students and generations of Floridians to come without sacrificing responsible spending."
Gov. Scott also reiterated that he has asked for $1 billion in new funding for education in his budget recommendations for next fiscal year. "I have traveled the state and listened to the people of Florida, and it is clear that education, and its correlation to quality jobs, is the top issue facing our state. I will continue to work every day to ensure that every Floridian has the opportunity for a good education and a job."
"The News Service of Florida contributed to this report."
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