The Seattle City Council has approved a plan to roll out the preschool program that voters approved last November.
The Seattle City Council unanimously approved a rollout plan for the city’s new preschool program Monday, five months before the first classrooms open this fall.
The plan lays out how the city will choose which preschool providers will participate in the city-subsidized program, which will be funded over the next four years with a $58 million property-tax levy voters approved last fall.
Under the city’s plan, preschool providers in areas near low-achieving public schools will receive highest priority as the city approves the first 14 subsidized classrooms this fall and then expands to about 100 classrooms by the 2018-19 school year. Preschool programs that target low-income families and can prove they are high-quality or offer dual-language programs will also be prioritized.
Any preschool that wants city funding must have high marks on the state’s preschool rating program, called Early Achievers.
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The plan also clarifies how much families will pay for the subsidized preschool classes depending on family size and income. A family of four making less than $70,000 per year would get free tuition; the same-sized family making $75,000 would pay about $1,313 per year per child. The prices go up from there, with a family of four with $100,000 in income paying $3,000 a year, and $200,000 in income paying $10,173.
The council also set aside $8.5 million for preschool providers to renovate their buildings to meet licensing standards or improve the quality of their programs.
Lead teachers at city preschools will be paid on par with public-school teachers here, and the preschools’ classes will operate six hours a day, five days per week, with no more than 20 students per class. If more children sign up for the program than the number of spots available, students will be accepted based on a number of factors, including age, where they live and their family’s income.
The city now will begin to take applications from preschools that want to be part of the new program.