Universal preschool in Seattle proposed

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by HEATHER GRAF / KING 5 News

Bio | Email | Follow: @HeatherGrafK5

KING5.com

Posted on April 3, 2014 at 10:28 PM

Updated Friday, Apr 4 at 6:03 AM

It's a proposal that could cost Seattle taxpayers millions of dollars, but it could also give your child a jumpstart on his or her education by providing preschool to all three-year-olds and four-year-olds.  Mayor Ed Murray held a community meeting on Thursday, to get feedback on the proposal.

Currently, there are about 13,000 three and four year olds living in Seattle.  About two thousand of them are not in a preschool program, according to city research.  Mayor Ed Murray says that has to change.

"It's very important," he said.  "We know the studies show that if kids get pre-k classes they do better, particularly kids who come from economically disadvantaged backgrounds."

Thursday's meeting was intended to create a dialog between the mayor's office, parents, and taxpayers.

Fartun Yussuf is a mom of two who attended the meeting.  She says her two-year-old is already on a waiting list for preschool, that would cost their family nearly $700 a month if she is accepted.

"My husband has to do a lot of overtime for that," she said.  "And I have to have another job, so she can go to preschool."

She feels it's important to enroll her daughter so that she doesn't fall behind, but at the same time admits that paying for preschool is a huge financial burden.

The proposed city-run program would likely make preschool free for low income families.

It's also estimated it would cost millions of dollars in taxpayer money, possibly funded by a property tax increase.

The mayor said that's why it's important the city take its time through this process.

"It will be something we'll have to send to the people for a vote, so we have to get it right," he said.

He is optimistic he may be able to get the issue on a ballot sometime in 2014, but says it's too early to commit to a specific timeline.

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