Montana is back among states without state-funded preschool

HELENA, Mont. (AP) — Montana enters the upcoming school year back among the states without publicly funded preschool. And education groups are a big reason why Gov. Steve Bullock’s fledgling pre-kindergarten program fizzled.

The 2017 legislature approved funding for a two-year pilot program to provide preschool programming through a mix of public and private classrooms.

But some of Bullock’s education allies were irritated that the program passed in a behind-the-scenes deal with Republican lawmakers on the final day of the 2017 session.

After Bullock’s proposed $22 million preschool package failed to get a committee vote in 2019, he backed a compromise bill to spend $15 million on both public and private preschools.

Education interests rejected that, arguing the only way to ensure equal access to preschool is to fund it through public schools.

Few states fund completely public preschool.

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