Children Turned Away from Colorado Preschools

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DENVER (AP) -- Thousands of Colorado children who qualify for free preschool won't be going because of state budget shortfalls.

The Denver Post reports today that 17 percent of eligible 4-year-olds weren't able to attend preschool during the 2011-12 school year, the most recent year with state estimates.

An increase of 3,200 slots this school year for children in preschool and kindergarten is expected to offer some relief. But state officials say the expansion isn't enough.

State lawmakers have capped the number of children who can be served by the Colorado Preschool Program at 20,160 students, or 29 percent, of the state's 4-year-olds. As a result, demand for the program generally exceeds the available slots, leaving districts with long waiting lists.