Bright From the Start : Georgia Lottery Funded Pre-K
Under the leadership and personal involvement of Governor Zell Miller, the Georgia Pre-K Program began as a pilot program serving 750 at-risk four-year-old children and their families at 20 sites in 1992. Three million dollars from state funds paid for the program. In 1993-94, the first lottery funds were utilized to provide pre-kindergarten programs for more than 8,700 at-risk four-year-old children.
In September 1995, the program was universally opened to all eligible four-year-old children, not just at-risk families. The program tripled its expansion efforts from 15,500 children during the school year 1994-95 to 44,000 slots during the 1995-96 school year. The private sector became an integral part of the program allowing the program to expand quickly without utilizing funds for capital outlay on new buildings or expansion facilities. A public/private partnership of this magnitude was a first in Georgia and the nation. By the tenth anniversary of Georgia's Pre-K Program in 2002-2003, over 500,000 children had participated in the lottery-funded Pre-K Program.
A major milestone was reached during the 2009-2010 school year when Georgia became the first state in the nation to serve more than one million Pre-K children in a voluntary, universal, lottery-funded program. During the current 20th year of the program, more than 83,000 children are being served in every county in the state. The Georgia Pre-K program has moved from serving a few hundred children a decade ago to becoming the most successful pre-kindergarten effort in the nation today and is now under the guidance of Bright from the Start with the Georgia Department of Early Learning.
While there are pre-kindergarten programs in Pickens County, there were none in any of the district’s four elementary schools. In an effort to instruct more four-year-old children and their families, the Pickens County School District decided to apply to Bright from the Start for lottery-funded classes at each of the elementary schools. In early July 2014, the district was notified that Bright from the Start would fund two pre-kindergarten classes at Hill City Elementary School. The district is very excited about the beginning of this most valuable program being offered at one of our elementary schools, and we are hoping more classes will be funded at other elementary school locations in the very near future.