Ambitious New City Initiative Aims at Making Universal Pre-K A Reality

On Tuesday, at the annual meeting of the Bridgeport Alliance for Young Children, Mayor Bill Finch, Superintendent Fran Rabinowitz and the United Way announced a new pre-K initiative aimed at ensuring all children in the Park City have access to pre-K.

“I have four boys who all went through pre-K,” said Mayor Bill Finch. “You see your child growing and flourishing in ways that would never happen if they weren’t in pre-school. That’s why we’re committed to making sure every kid in Bridgeport has access to quality early childhood education.”

This initiative is part of the mayor and superintendent’s push for universal pre-k, which so far has brought 366 new pre-K slots to Bridgeport through federal and state grants. With last year’s additions, there are a total of over 4,000 pre-k slots across Bridgeport.

Currently, 91 percent of 4-year-olds have access to pre-education. That means, by the definitions set out by other cities, Bridgeport has already achieved “Universal pre-K.”

According to a press release sent out by the mayor’s office, “Seattle, for example, defines Universal pre-K as offering free or reduced cost slots to 80 percent of all three and four years olds. San Francisco set a goal of offering pre-K for free or at a reduced cost to 75 percent of all four year olds.”

While Bridgeport is much close to the mayor’s goal of 100 percent access, not all of the new pre-K slots in Bridgeport are being utilized.

“More than 90 percent of 3- and 4-year-olds have access to pre-K education in Bridgeport,” said Rabinowitz. “Yet only two-thirds of the kids attend pre-K programs.”

“Working together, with everyone in this room and the community, I know we will increase that number,” she said.

“We are forming a task force to create a universal pre-K definition specific to the Park City and to create a plan to make sure quality pre-K is accessible and affordable for all parents,” said Finch. “We are off to a strong start.”



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