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Governor Promotes Early Childhood Literacy

Joining students at Bryant Elementary School, Gov. Greg Gianforte celebrated a new law to promote early childhood literacy through voluntary screening and targeted intervention programs in Montana public schools.

“Literacy is critical for our kids and their development,” Gianforte said. “With the funding for early childhood literacy we secured this spring, we’re empowering parents and teachers to prepare our kids for school and their futures.”

In a Kinder Sprouts classroom at Bryant Elementary, the governor spoke with the students about the importance of reading. In May, the governor signed into law House Bill 352, sponsored by Rep. Brad Barker, R-Luther, to provide funding for schools to implement early targeted literacy interventions for children older than three to support reading proficiency by third grade. Through a screening assessment developed by the Montana Board of Public Education, public school districts may now offer parents the option to have their child assessed for reading proficiency.

If a child is assessed to be at risk for not achieving third grade reading proficiency, the student would be eligible for free in-home virtual literacy programs or one-onone teacher instruction from kindergarten through third grade.

Rep. Barker, who served as a deputy superintendent for a school district after retiring from the military, spoke to the importance of reading proficiency in young Montanans.

“Education is one of the most important things that we do as a society,” he said.

Before reading a book to students, the governor also highlighted the work of First Lady Susan Gianforte to boost child literacy through Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library. The program, now available to Montana children under age 5 in every zip code, provides children with a free, high quality, age-appropriate book every month. Children may be registered for the program at imaginationlibrary. com. Concluding his visit, the governor read the students “Look Out Kindergarten, Here I Come,” the very last book sent to children who participate in the Imagination Library.

Promoting and expanding access to quality educational opportunities for students and boosting literacy to empower more Montana children are top priorities for the governor and first lady.

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