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

San Diego Unified Opens Pre-K Program To All, Regardless Of Income
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
San Diego Unified Opens Pre-K Program To All, Regardless Of Income GUEST: Stephanie Ceminsky, director of early childhood education, San Diego Unified District

San Diego unified opens up its preschool program for a fee to all families. And an update on the story made famous by the podcast serial. This is KPBS Midday Edition. I am Maureen Cavanaugh it is Wednesday, August 24. Our top story on Midday Edition families that struggle to afford the cost of prekindergarten programs in San Diego have another option. The San Diego unified school District has announced they are opening up their pre-K program for a fee to all families. The fee starts at about half the average cost of preschool in San Diego County. Joining me is Stephanie Ceminsky director of early childhood education at San Diego unified. Welcome to the program. Thank you for having me. San Diego unified has been offering free pre-K2 children in low income families. What does it take to qualify for the free pre-K. The position behind this program is aligned with the decades of research that has proven the positive outcomes for students to participate in preschool. San Diego unified, like you said has offered income qualifying. -- Preschool options for families but under this pre-K for all initiative we have varied options for all families based on need and different clusters and areas of San Diego within our school district for families that live in San Diego or families that live outside and surrounding areas or work in the San Diego area. What does it take to qualify for the free pre-K let's start there. To qualify for free pre-K it is based on an income cap set of the state of California. There are different variables in regards to your family size and income level. So what are the fees like for families who would like to get their kids enrolled in San Diego unified under this new program this opening up of the pre-K? The fees range from $530 to 1060. The fees are at different price points based on the schools the code -- ZIP Code, average monthly late -- rate. Where under the market rate in both areas. I got some information San Diego unified will charge 5450 San Diego unified will charge 5454 three hours a day -- 5450 $5450 for three hours a day. It depends on the school site that you are attending but it ranges from $530 up to another price point for a fixed our model option or a full day center. It really depends on the site that you are enrolling on in the ZIP Code. I don't really understand. What is that $500 figure you're talking to me about is that for 10 months or a week or wet. It is for 10 months. For a party option would be $530. Some school sites that offer a full day model range from $530 to 1060. It depends on the school site that you enroll in that is going to determine the price? -- Point. The cost of preschool varies by location. Why is that It's based on the average market rate and ZIP Code for the area. Are there any discounts available? We have discounts for military, siblings, and employees. Will this new program perhaps squeeze out the low income kids were eligible for the free program? It will not. This wonderful initiative is exactly that. It is pre-K for all. Regardless of your qualifications if you income qualify or you would like to choose the fee-based option we will provide a placement for your. People can enroll we are taking enrollment now and we hope that families will take advantage of it. We have designated spots for income qualifying families so no student will go without. You say that students can start signing up for this new preschool program now. Could classes begin as early as next week? Yes. We have some sites that are ready to take enrollments of student and start on the first day of school. We are really excited about that. Why did the district wait until the last minute to make this announcement? I am new to the program I came on board in July and that I do not have specific details to. I do know it's a partnership with the whole district and we were ready to get it launched and we did not want to wait any longer to help server students. So you are telling me as part of the first question how much preschool does help kids as they start their journey through school. Went to we know about that? Students benefit academically, socially, and it's proven that they are more kindergarten ready. When students are part of the school community when they are going onto a campus of their neighborhood school and being in the principal and learning the structures of school and discovery and creativity and played when they enter kindergarten they are ready for the academic focus. They have already been exposed to the structures and outline of school. What ages are available to -- eligible for pre-K programs. We are enrolling ages three and four. They can come from outside the district? They can. We are targeting families that may work downtown or are working in surrounding areas that want to join our united effort to help server students and help repair for our future. I can imagine people can find out when and where to enroll the kids on the website. They can also call the office. There's an interest form on the website you can submit it electronically and we will call you and respond with you and set up a non-Roman time. I've been speaking with Stephanie Ceminsky director of early childhood education. Thank you. Thank you so much.

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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.

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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.