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5 cities receive grant to fund all-day preschool

A new federally funded early education program will allow five large cities in Massachusetts to open all-day preschool classrooms.

The money will fund the Massachusetts Preschool Expansion Grant program, which will bring together local public schools with community-based early educations programs. The cities will receive a combined total of more than $14 million this year to set up 45 new classrooms, according to a statement from the state Department of Early Education and Care.

“I am pleased to help welcome students to the new school year and highlight the expansion of the diverse early education and care system through this new pilot,” Governor Charlie Baker said in the statement. “The goal is to ensure that more children have access to the educational resources they need to put them on an early path to success, and achieve proficiency in reading by the end of the third grade.”


The federal award will provide a yearlong, full-day preschool education to 78 children in Holyoke, where Baker visited one of the new classrooms on Tuesday.

New classrooms will also be established in Boston, Lawrence, Lowell, and Springfield, providing programming to 780 more children, the education department said.

In Holyoke, the Preschool Expansion Grant has allowed Holyoke Public Schools to partner with the Valley Opportunity Council and Holyoke-Chicopee-Springfield Head Start to open new preschool classrooms that will run from eight to 10 hours a day in four of their schools, the statement said.

The 45 new classrooms will operate on a full-day schedule throughout the school year. Classes will be small with about 10 children for every teacher. Attendance will be free to families whose income is no more than twice the federal poverty line, according to the education department.

Beginning this year, Massachusetts could receive up to $60 million over a four-year period from the federal Preschool Expansion Grant program to fund the preschool classrooms.


Sarah Roberts can be reached at sarah.roberts@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter @heysarahroberts.