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Universal pre-K: What it will cost and what needs to get done to make it work in Philly

February 24, 2016
AccessEconomics and FinanceGovernance and AccountabilityQuality and CurriculumState & LocalUniversal and Targeted
Cassie Owens

There are currently 14,000 quality pre-K seats and 42,500 3-to-5-year- olds in Philadelphia, according to the latest report from the Philadelphia Commission on Universal Pre-Kindergarten.

The 17-person commission held a public hearing yesterday to welcome feedback on its most recent report, published earlier this month. The report discussed options for blending local, state and federal funding to pump the number of quality, publicly funded pre-K seats in the city. The commission, created through a massive 80 percent vote during last May’s primary, pegs the cost of a pre-K budget for the city at $60 million annually. Kenney, who not only backs universal pre-K but campaigned on it, is expected to announce potential funding streams in his upcoming budget address.

Philadelphia’s universal pre-K system, a long called-for educational option in line with the widespread scholarship touting the benefits of early childhood education, would cover 3- to 5- year-olds. The commission, whose members are essentially the architects of the city’s program, is studying which methods would be best to create more quality seats.