San Francisco to expand preschool program

January 13, 2015

Children play at a preschool in San Francisco.

San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee announced Tuesday that he will expand the city’s Preschool for All program after voters in November approved a ballot measure to help fund public education and children’s services for a quarter-century.

Nearly two-thirds of the city’s 4-year-olds are in high-quality preschool programs in San Francisco, said Laurel Kloomek, executive director of San Francisco First5, which oversees 150 preschools in the city. Most of the city’s low-income preschoolers are already enrolled in city preschools, she added.

Lee is expected to discuss the preschool expansion in his state of the city address on Thursday. He said funds from Measure C, approved by nearly 75 percent of voters in November, will allow the city to provide 860 more families a year with access to public preschool programs for their children.

San Francisco’s goal is to enroll 75 percent of all 4-year-olds in preschools. There are about 6,200 4-year-olds in the city now.

The city created its universal preschool program in 2004 after voters approved Proposition H, which created the Public Education Enrichment Fund to improve public education in San Francisco. The measure set aside one-third of the fund to create a universal preschool program.

Lee said early childhood education programs provide a good return on the investment, according to economic studies.

Los Angeles also has a universal preschool program, Los Angeles Universal Preschool, which is better known as LAUP. It was created after voters in 1999 approved Proposition 10, which added a 50-cent tax on each pack of cigarettes.

Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson has recently shown interest in proposing a universal preschool system in his city.


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