During the special session in 2004, the Arkansas General Assembly passed landmark legislation, greatly expanding access to ABC programs. Act 49 created the Arkansas Better Chance for School Success programs, a state-funded quality preschool program for at-risk 3 and 4 year old children estimated to cost $100 million per year when fully implemented. During the special session of 2004 legislators appropriated $40 million in new revenues for the initial expansion of this quality public preschool for children with family incomes under 200 percent of poverty. An additional appropriation of $20 million during the 2005 session brought total new state investment in this program to $60 million per year.
As with any major program expansion, the state faced major challenges. The pre-k expansion provided a rare case study on how to undergo a major expansion of quality pre-k to at-risk children over a very short time frame. This report is an analysis of what happened during the eight months following the enactment of this new program , the initial $40 million appropriation, and the additional $20 million expansion during 2005.