Utah: Granite is the first district in the nation to be financed by private investors who pay upfront for preschool seats, and make a profit if enough of the district’s “at-risk” kids succeed. The controversial financing tool, often referred to as a social impact bond, has allowed this cash-strapped district, one of five in the Salt Lake City area, to provide high-quality early education to thousands of poor 3- and 4-year-olds who might have otherwise stayed home.
Significant expansion would be costly. About 62,000 low-income children are eligible for the free NC Pre-K, and about 47 percent of them are being served. The legislature last year funded 3,500 additional slots, which will cost $27 million over two years. Goodnight said the added money will mean about 50 percent of disadvantaged children will be covered, and about 75 percent coverage is about all that’s possible given parent interest. Another challenge is on the horizon. Some schools face a space crunch for pre-K classrooms due to legislative mandates to reduce class size in early grades.
Usually, city preschool measures get funded through a dedicated city tax. For example, Denver and San Antonio have expanded access to pre-K through revenues from sales tax. Seattle does so through a property tax, while Philadelphia uses a tax on sodas. In San Francisco and Wake County, North Carolina, local leaders dedicated funding from the city or county’s general revenues to pre-K programs.
Most of the ten states provide funding for pre-K via general revenue funds, but a few use lottery funding…By contrast, the three states with the lowest levels of total funding (Nebraska, Ohio, and South Carolina) also enrolled the fewest children. An increase in total funding and consideration of funding sources in addition to the state’s general revenue fund are recommended for expanding access to pre-K in Indiana. This may include funding options available through federal grant.
Only three states — Florida, Georgia and Oklahoma — have what could be called truly universal programs in that they’re available to all 4-year-olds, regardless of parental income. The three states offer examples of the different ways in which the program’s funding source can affect its future.
The legacy starts early, with an infusion of funding for early childhood programs in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. When the administration took office in early 2009, the economic crisis had decimated many state budgets, imperiling childcare and preschool funding for hundreds of thousands of children.
Indiana: As lawmakers wade into the issue, they must strike a delicate balance between providing money to expand the program while not ignoring competing interests as they write a new, two-year budget this legislative session. Lawmakers also must juggle expanding the number of scholarship recipients while allowing time for the state to create more spots in high-quality programs.