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Preschools Reap Benefits From The Park City Ed Foundation

Park City School District

Access to early childhood education is not available to all children despite research showing it’s critical to success in school.

The Park City Education Foundation provides $150,000 in tuition assistance for Park City School District's earliest learners. Public education funding in Utah does not include preschool, so opportunities vary by community. Park City Education Foundation Abby McNulty said they've identified early education as one of their core grants programs, and have supported it with funding for more than a decade.

"Even three- and four-year-old learning literacy and numeracy and social skills and seat time on the rug in the circle and things like that. Those are all really intentionally thought through. They do look at the cohort of the preschool program of kids as they move through. The whole goal is to get kids on an equal playing field by the time they enter kindergarten, so that you have kids that are entering with similar skill sets of knowing what it's like to stand in a line to go to recess, or knowing what it's like to sit in a circle, and share what your interest is or whatever it might be."

McNulty said early childhood education and creating safe places for children while parents are working is a priority for the foundation and the school district. Providing universal preschool in each of the four elementary schools has priority status as the district's master planning projects move forward.

"The Ed Foundation is just a piece of the puzzle for the preschool program. And as with all things in the foundation, we invest resources into critical programs in the school district to really create a meaningful educational experience and also have a high impact in the community. The school district is always the key funding and the core funding partner, and then preschool itself is also paid for by tuition, so families pay to participate. And then the third piece of that is the grants that are received to support offering this high-quality preschool program, and that's where the Ed Foundation falls in."

The foundation has supported the preschool program with an annual high-impact grant for ten years. It was part of the school district's pilot, and it's grown and evolved in the past decade. Families pay tuition on a sliding scale. McNulty said the program that serves 4-year-old children mimics the kindergarten full-day schedule, and it helps families manage their work-life balance.

"The primary objective of preschool is to prepare kids to be both ready, academically, and socially, and emotionally. And long-term studies show that results in higher graduation rates, higher years of college completed, higher lifetime earned income. In fact, there's lots of research out there that demonstrates for every dollar we invest in preschool, $13 is returned to the community."

The Education Foundation was able to supplement an extra $50,000 this year, to make up for a shortfall caused by a state grant not allocated to the Park City School District.

"KPCW news reports on issues affecting children aged zero through three years old is brought to you by the Early Childhood fund at the Park City Community Foundation. For more information, go to earlychildhoodalliance.net."

KPCW reporter Carolyn Murray covers Summit and Wasatch County School Districts. She also reports on wildlife and environmental stories, along with breaking news. Carolyn has been in town since the mid ‘80s and raised two daughters in Park City.
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