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San Diego Unified Opens Pre-K Program To All, Regardless Of Income

Photo caption:

Photo credit: Flickr

Students leave Graham Memorial Preschool in Coronado, Dec. 1, 2009.

Good news for parents with little ones: San Diego Unified is opening its preschool program once reserved for low-income families to all income brackets.

San Diego Unified Opens Pre-K Program To All, Regardless Of Income

GUEST:

Stephanie Ceminsky, director of early childhood education, San Diego Unified District

Transcript

The San Diego Unified School District on Tuesday announced that it's opening its pre-K program to all families.

California districts have long offered no-cost preschool for families whose incomes qualify — about $47,000 for a family of four. That left out families with incomes just a hair above the cutoff and middle-income families with not enough money to pay the high price of private preschool.

"For years, some working families have been left outside: military families, families with two incomes, even those who make a few dollars over income guidelines," said Stephanie Ceminsky, who will head the new program called "Pre-K For All."

The average cost of preschool in San Diego County in 2014 was $9,952, according to kidsdata.org. The cost varies by ZIP code and program, with some preschools charging about $13,000.

Including an annual registration fee, San Diego Unified will charge $5,450 for three hours a day over 10 months; $6,750 to $10,750 for six hours a day over 10 months; and $12,150 for six to ten hours a day for the full year. Military families, district employees and parents enrolling multiple children can get a discounted rate.

Pre-K Sites With Enrollment For Fee

Florence Elementary

Fulton K-8 School

Golden Hill K-8 School

Hawthorne Elementary

Logan K-8 School

Marshall Elementary

Perkins Elementary

Rowan Elementary

Whitman Elementary

Ceminsky said the cost variance is due to location. School sites in low-income neighborhoods where the market rate for preschool is lower will charge less.

The district said the initiative would not displace low-income children who qualify for no-cost preschool. This year it added 473 spots, and in 2014, 700 subsidized spots went unfilled.

Ceminsky said the district could open more preschool slots — up to 3,400 total — if there's demand for them. And she added that if the district's roster is full and an income-qualified student knocks on its door, it would make room.

School districts throughout the nation, including Poway Unified, already offer preschool for a fee.

San Diego's program is open to children ages 3 and 4, with options for low-income students and children with disabilities as young as 2 years old. Families who live outside the district's boundaries are also eligible. Enrollment begins immediately, and preschoolers could head to class as early as Monday.

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