Bullock’s budget proposes nearly $20M for public preschool

HELENA (AP) — Gov. Steve Bullock is proposing the state spend nearly $20 million over the next two years to expand a pilot program for public preschool.

Siri Smillie, the governor’s policy advisor for education, said Monday public preschool helps promote social development, teaches children to problem-solve, think critically, be creative and communicate — sending them to kindergarten ready to learn. Other supporters say preschool provides long-term benefits.

Bullock has long called for expanding education options for preschool-age children, noting Montana is behind the rest of the nation.

The bill would allow communities that voluntarily run preschool programs to receive half as much funding per student as it receives for students in elementary grades. It also includes startup grants for new programs.

No one spoke against the bill in the House Judiciary Committee.