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WUNC's American Graduate Project is part of a nationwide public media conversation about the dropout crisis. We'll explore the issue through news reports, call-in programs and a forum produced with UNC-TV. Also as a part of this project we've partnered with the Durham Nativity School and YO: Durham to found the WUNC Youth Radio Club. These reports are part of American Graduate-Let’s Make it Happen!- a public media initiative to address the drop out crisis, supported by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting and these generous funders: Project Funders:GlaxoSmithKlineThe Goodnight Educational FoundationJoseph M. Bryan Foundation State FarmThe Grable FoundationFarrington FoundationMore education stories from WUNC

Will There Be More Pre-K Slots In Wake County Soon?

Sarah Gilbert via Flickr

Wake County school officials say they hope to expand pre-kindergarten services by adding more than 200 slots for next school year. 

Superintendent Jim Merrill is asking the Board of Commissioners for $39 million in local funding, with about $1.5 million directed toward hiring more teachers, assistant teachers and special education experts. 

"We want kids to come into schools prepared and we find that children who experience disadvantaged homes or who have disabilities are less likely to have that preparation," says Karen Hamilton, Wake's assistant superintendent of special education services. 

The Wake County school system serves 2,121 students in preschool programs, 1,446 of whom have been identified as being in need of special education services, according to Hamilton. The remaining 675 students are part of the district's Title I program, which targets low-income families. Hamilton says 822 students are currently on that waiting list. 

Pam Dowdy, executive director of Wake County SmartStart, applaud's the county's efforts to provide more preschool services. 

"Whether it's how to get along in a group, interpersonal communication, managing their own behavior - those are the kinds of things children learn in preschool and those are life skills that are absolutely essential," she says. 

Studies also show that children who attend preschool are less likely to be retained, less likely to need special education throughout their entire school career and more likely to graduate. 

The school board will consider the superintendent's proposed budget at a public hearing held today. 



Reema Khrais joined WUNC in 2013 to cover education in pre-kindergarten through high school. Previously, she won the prestigious Joan B. Kroc Fellowship. For the fellowship, she spent a year at NPR where she reported nationally, produced on Weekends on All Things Considered and edited on the digital desk. She also spent some time at New York Public Radio as an education reporter, covering the overhaul of vocational schools, the contentious closures of city schools and age-old high school rivalries.
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