Youngsters in Orleans Parish would be at the top of the list if Louisiana lands a $15 million federal prekindergarten grant, officials said Thursday.
The state applied for the aid earlier this week after Gov. Bobby Jindal said he received assurances that it would not be linked to Common Core, which the governor opposes.
A decision is expected in December.
More than 30 states have applied, Jenna Conway, assistant superintendent of early childhood, said in a letter.
Conway wrote that the state’s chances of qualifying for the money are modest but that Louisiana benefits because it is revamping its early childhood education system as the result of a 2012 state law.
Advocates say additional dollars are needed to make the overhaul a success.
The money would finance about 700 new slots per year for 4-year-olds for four years.
However, it represents less than 2 percent of public spending in Louisiana for at-risk 4-year-olds.
Conway said the state’s application put a priority on urban and rural areas with the highest levels of need, unmet parent demand and areas that launched pilots to test the state’s initial efforts to revamp early childhood education.
That means Orleans Parish would be one of the initial six parishes that would benefit from the money starting with the 2015-16 school year.
Other areas that have launched pilots would be eligible for assistance during the following three years, including Ascension, West Baton Rouge, St. Tammany and Lafayette parishes.
The money would be allocated to public, nonpublic, Head Start and child care settings.
Whether to apply for the grant prompted a letter from Jindal to President Barack Obama and a series of letters from Jindal to state Superintendent of Education John White, seeking assurances that the pre-K money would not be linked to Common Core.
White told the governor that the new academic standards apply only to students from kindergarten through 12th grade.