Skip to main content

LATEST UPDATES: Tracking COVID-19 | Racial Justice | Election 2020

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


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


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 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.


San Diego News Matters podcast branding

KPBS' daily news podcast covering local politics, education, health, environment, the border and more. New episodes are ready weekday mornings so you can listen on your morning commute.

  • Need help keeping up with the news that matters most? Get the day's top news — ranging from local to international — straight to your inbox each weekday morning.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.

Midday Edition banner

KPBS Midday Edition is a daily radio news magazine keeping San Diego in the know on everything from politics to the arts.

Want more KPBS news?
Find us on Twitter and Facebook, or sign up for our newsletters.

To view PDF documents, Download Acrobat Reader.