(Plain Press, September 2015) Last August, the Cleveland Metropolitan School District announced the launching of PRE4CLE, an effort to expand the number of quality preschool seats available to children ages 3-5 years living in the City of Cleveland (see PRE4CLE sets goals to expand quality preschool offerings in city of Cleveland, Plain Press, September 2014, www.plainpress.org). The expansion effort, announced last year, specifically targeted four year olds with a goal of increasing the number of four year olds in quality preschool slots by 2,000 students from 2014 to 2016. When the goal was announced there were 1,200 four year olds in quality preschool seats.
Last August, when the PRE4CLE program started, a Case Western Reserve University study indicated that in the 2013 school year “only 2,857 Cleveland children ages 3 to 5, fewer than one in five, were enrolled in high-quality preschool.” The study noted that, while there were 10,013 preschool slots available in 2013, only 3,530 of those slots where rated as high quality by the State of Ohio and, of those slots, only 2,857 were filled.
This July, the Cleveland Metropolitan School District released an update on the PRE4CLE program indicating that PRE4CLE now offers 4,700 high-quality seats at 90 sites including 59 CMSD schools. This marks an increase of 1,170 high quality preschool seats available to Cleveland children since the 2013 school year. The goal now is to fill all those seats. Openings are still available for this coming school year (see related article on page)
If PRE4CLE is able to fill all 4,700 slots it will have increase the number of 3-5 year olds in quality preschool seats by 1,843 since the 2013 school year.
The majority of the quality preschool slots available in Cleveland are provided by the 31 private providers, which are now offering 2,857 quality preschool slots. The Cleveland Metropolitan School District offers the remainder of the slots.
When the Cleveland Metropolitan School District joined in the launch of PRE4CLE, in August of 2014, it announced it had just increased its preschool slots by 230 spaces bringing its total to 1,020 quality spaces for children. As this school year opens, the Cleveland Metropolitan School District announced it now has 59 preschool sites with 1,846 prekindergarten seats available. This marks an increase of 826 seats since the beginning of last school year. New seats include additional classrooms at Joseph M. Gallagher and Tremont Montessori schools as well as the addition of a new preschool site at Marion C. Seltzer School.
Of the 4,700 quality preschool seats now available, it is not yet clear how many will be filled by four year olds. So, it is difficult to access how far along PRE4CLE is in its goal of having 3,200 four year olds in quality preschool seats by 2016.
However, the PRE4CLE is making progress toward its goal of having 6,000 quality preschool seats by the end of 2016. Reaching that goal would mean PRE4CLE would be able to serve about 37% of the estimated 16,500 children ages 3-5 years old by the end of 2016. Currently, the 4,700 available, quality, preschool slots represent seats for just over 28% of the estimated preschool age population.
Last year, PRE4CLE’s new Director Katie Kelly said, “while the ultimate goal of PRE4CLE is to make high-quality preschool available to every pre-school aged child in Cleveland, but we anticipate, based on research from other similar programs the ‘take up rate’ will be 70%.” Last year, Director Kelly said with the current population of 3-5 year olds, a 70% mark would mean serving 11,447 children in quality preschool seats.