WILMINGTON, N.C. (WNCN) – North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper announced that $8 million in federal funding will be given to Pre-K classrooms throughout the state to help support the needs of young learners for the new school year.

Gov. Cooper’s announcement was made when he toured the Mary Washington Howe Pre-K Center of New Hanover County Schools on Wednesday. He also called on the legislature to pass a budget to invest in public schools and early childhood education.

The $8 million in federal funding is to provide a one-time special allocation to all Pre-K classrooms throughout the state.

Gov. Cooper proposed a $108.3 million investment in Pre-K classrooms for 2023-24 earlier this year and a $199.5 million investment for 2024-25. The funding would increase the state reimbursement rates for operating NC Pre-K classrooms in childcare centers and public schools, provide start-up grants and serve more children.

Poor state reimbursement rates, increasing startup and operating costs, and recruitment and retention of teachers are main obstacles to expanding NC Pre-K classrooms.

According to a statement from Gov. Cooper’s Office, the House and Senate budgets under consideration do not provide a funding increase for the NC Pre-K program.

The $8 million funding can go towards upgrading classroom materials, toys, supplies, playground equipment, mental health support for children and staff and other needs.

North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services (NCDHHS) will give out the funding of approximately $3,860 per classroom for 2,098 NC Pre-K funded classrooms.

To read more about the federal funding, visit NC OSBM.