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Seattle to spend $3.5M expanding citywide preschool program

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(The Center Square) – Seattle will spend $3.5 million to expand its Seattle Preschool Program, which focuses on advancing educational equity and reducing race-based opportunity gaps in kindergarten readiness.

With the $3.5 million, the city will build 16 new preschool classrooms, nine of which are in brand new Seattle Preschool Program locations. Five of the classrooms will be at existing locations, and two classrooms are graduating from a Seattle Preschool Program Pathway classroom to full implementation models, according to a press release.

The funds stem from the seven-year Families, Education, Preschool, and Promise Levy. Seattle property owners would pay a rate of $0.37 per $1,000 of assessed value in property taxes, according to the city. A homeowner in Seattle with the median home value of $847,419 would pay approximately $314 a year.

“Providing affordable and high-quality education programs for our city’s kids ensures they are set up for success as they embark on their academic journey,” Seattle Mayor Bruce Harrell said in a news release. “By continuing to invest in more Seattle Preschool Program classrooms with inclusive curriculum and dedicated educators, we will reach even more families next school year.”

The Seattle Preschool Program plans to have 27 partner organizations in 2024-2025. Through these organizations, there will be 97 preschool sites and 151 classrooms that can serve nearly 2,500 children citywide. That is approximately 7% of the Seattle population under the age of 5, according to data from Neilsberg Research.

When the program first launched in 2015, it served 283 children in 15 classrooms. The program has expanded every year since then.

The Seattle Preschool Program model funds preschool tuition for families on a sliding scale based on household income. It also accommodates children with behavioral or developmental needs.

According to the city, nearly 70% of families that are part of the program pay no tuition.