Santa Maria Community Services endorses Issue 44

Santa Maria Community Services has announced their support for Issue 44, a levy that will strengthen k-12 education in Cincinnati Public Schools and provide affordable, quality preschool through a partnership with the school district and Cincinnati Preschool Promise.

The five-year, $48-million emergency levy will allocate $15 million annually to fund the expansion of quality preschool through Cincinnati Public Schools and community-based providers by improving the quality of existing programs and adding more seats within these programs. The levy will serve to provide children in the district age three to four with a strong start, beginning with economically disadvantaged children and benefitting as many as 6,000 children annually.

Within Cincinnati, more than 40 percent of students who enter public school kindergarten are unready to learn and develop behind their peers. These students are half as likely to read at grade level by third grade compared to other students. Research, including a recent study by the Rand Corporation, confirms impressive returns on investments in high-quality preschool in terms of educational outcomes. Rand found that these returns are especially high for children from economically disadvantaged families and when high-quality preschool is connected to a strong K-12 educational system. However, existing high-quality preschool providers, including CPS and Head Start, do not currently have the capacity to serve all these students. Improving the quality of existing programs and adding more high-quality seats is needed to give all children a strong start. These quality programs affect a child’s kindergarten readiness, which has positive long-term impacts in achievement test scores and social and emotional development. Cuts to teachers, student programs, and essential educational services are expected should Issue 44 not pass.

Santa Maria’s Promoting Our Preschoolers Program Director, Susan Conrad, states, “Santa Maria’s Early Childhood programs provide support and continuing education for our families and children so they can experience school success, beyond just kindergarten readiness. Many of the children we serve in the Price Hill area do not have preschool experience, including home visitation. Our Promoting Our Preschoolers program currently serves about 15% of the kindergarten-bound population in this area and having a preschool experience is vital for their social-emotional development. It is clear that the children who get a combination of home visitation and a preschool experience are the ones who are most successful in the transition to the school.”

“Issue 44 enables children to receive access to early education that is fundamental to their later success in school,” says Christine Bull, Santa Maria’s Family Child Care Program Director. “This is of particular importance to children living in poverty, who tend to have limited access to quality preschool programs and often arrive at kindergarten unprepared. This places them at a disadvantage at the onset, and often follows them through the entirety of their school career. Arriving to school at a disadvantage can also determine various life outcomes for children, such as higher school dropout rates, future incarceration, etc. Specifically, in Price Hill, we know that there are more preschool aged children than there are slots that are available to them. We also know that parents often choose not to enroll children in preschool programs for various reasons, including those that are economic in nature.”

The levy will serve to ensure affordable access to high performing preschools and family child care locations and provide excellent teaching, strong academics, and specialized programming. In addition, the levy will connect quality preschool with a strong k-3 early literacy program, invest in training and curriculum assistance for preschool operators, and lead to new, good paying jobs. Santa Maria’s agency partner, United Way of Greater Cincinnati, has been named the local, established, non-profit entity to manage the preschool expansion funding. The levy will advance our region’s Bold Goal of 85% of children ready for kindergarten by 2020.