The Seattle Preschool Program Starts Strong

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Education and Governance Committee meetingMy Council committee received an encouraging report this morning about the launch of the Seattle Preschool Program. Voters approved this program with overwhelming support last year and the City had an ambitious timeline to open the first classrooms this fall.

The City’s Department of Education and Early Learning told us this morning how many kids have enrolled and who they are. You can view the slides here.

Here are a few of my key takeaways:

  • The City has enrolled 288 kids in 15 classrooms, exceeding our goal of 280 kids in 14 classrooms.
  • All eligible 4 year olds who applied have been offered a seat in one of this year’s classrooms.
  • The program has done an excellent job in reaching a racially and economically diverse group of families across all of its classrooms.
  • More than three-quarters of this year’s participants are below 300% of the Federal Poverty Line (about $73,000 for a family of four), which means they get a full tuition subsidy.
  • Nearly half of the children in the program come from families that would not have qualified for the Federal Head Start program but still qualify for free tuition in the City’s program. Valuable tuition relief is being provided to these working families.

There have been numerous learning opportunities in the past few months and the City will implement process improvements for enrollment for the next school year, which will begin in February. Thankfully, we chose to start small and get the quality of program right. The City will expand the program slowly over the next few years, reaching 100 classrooms and 2,000 kids by the fourth year.

The City is recruiting now for 37 classroom providers for the 2016-2017 school year.

These are just the first steps to our ultimate goal: making high-quality preschool available and affordable to all of Seattle’s children.