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Raimondo vows universal pre-kindergarten if reelected

September 11, 2018
Madeleine List
Providence Journal

PAWTUCKET, R.I. — Gov. Gina Raimondo announced Monday that if reelected she will guarantee that every 4-year-old in the state has a spot in a pre-kindergarten classroom.

“I don’t think that you should have to be wealthy in order to have a chance to have a good, high-quality pre-K,” Raimondo said, sitting in front of a classroom of preschoolers at the Heritage Park YMCA.

Currently, about 1,000 Rhode Island 4-year-olds participate in the state’s full-day pre-K program, and another 1,200 are enrolled in Head Start, a federally funded early learning program for low-income children.

Raimondo’s plan would add about 70 classrooms per year over the course of five years to ensure 6,000 additional seats for children in pre-K.

The program would cost about $15 million a year, Raimondo said. The money would come out of the general fund, as does all education spending, David Ortiz, Raimondo’s deputy campaign manager, wrote in an email.

“It’s one of the best investments we can make in our future,” Raimondo said.

Raimondo’s Democratic opponents, Matt Brown and Spencer Dickinson, said they supported the idea of universal pre-K.

Brown, in a statement sent by campaign spokeswoman Juliet Barbara, added, “voters know that a campaign promise doesn’t change Governor Raimondo’s record.”

Dickinson said he would first roll out universal pre-K in Providence, Pawtucket and Central Falls before expanding to the entire state.