Organizations around the state have joined to stress the importance of expanding pre-kindergarten in this election year.
Joan Benso, president of Pennsylvania Partnerships for Children, said the Pre-K for PA coalition launched in January with 10 founding organizations and that number has since grown to 200.
Statewide, only one in six children have access to high quality, publicly funded pre-k, which means nearly 250,000 children are missing out, she said in a phone conference with reporters.
“We have to make this change and we have to do this quickly,” Benso said.
County-level data provided by the coalition shows that in York County about 9 percent of children, or 1 in 11, have access to publicly-funded pre-K, and 84 percent don’t have access to high-quality pre-K at all. See a full fact sheet here.
Members of the coalition touted the benefits of Pre-K including that students will do better in school and be more prepared for jobs later, that at-risk students who have early childhood education programs are less likely to end up committing a crime later, and more. They also pointed out that other states are taking steps to make pre-k available for all students.
Learn more about the coalition here.
In York City, registration for the school district’s Pre-K Counts program, began Tuesday. There’s one classroom in each district school.
On Monday evening, program coordinator Julie Fabie told the school board she already had 130 appointments for 115 slots. The program is in the midst of its assessment, but in the past has gotten perfect marks.
Board member Glenn Medice said he’d prefer there wasn’t a waiting list.
“I think this is the start of what this district needs … to hit them with the basic skills they need to move on to kindergarten,” he said.
Supt. Eric Holmes said the district would have a proposal in April or May for adding three prekindergarten classrooms next year. They wouldn’t necessarily be Pre-K Counts classrooms, since that is a state-funded program, but they would mirror those.
The district wants to eventually have all students in pre-kindergarten, Holmes said. The district’s recovery plan includes expanding pre-k access.