Research shows children who attend pre-school have better academic outcomes and higher earning potential. Utah public education funding does not include pre-school programs. The Park City Education Foundation contributes over $100,000 to the school district to help pay for pre-school.
Park City School District Pre-School registration is open and according to Park City Education Foundation Associate Director, Jennifer Billow, there were lines out the door. However, she’s confident there’s room for everyone and says Parley’s Park is opening a second 4-year old class this year. She says the school district decided to pilot a pre-school program in 2011 and the Ed Foundation has been funding it since. Billow says research has shown how important this early education is for lifelong success.
“Thirty and forty-year studies have shown pre-school is critical, Billow says, for long-term support, it increases high school and college graduation rates, earned income over a lifetime. And, a high-quality pre-school really makes a difference in cost for the school district. Studies have show that for every dollar invested in pre-school, you get 13 dollars back in savings, special ed, lower prison rates because kids are entering kindergarten ready to learn.”
Billow encourages parents to register their 3-year-olds for the half day classes because that will give automatic entry into next year’s four-year-old classes. The $100 thousand-dollar program cost is covered mostly from the PCEF general fund. Vail contributes 15 to $20,000 a year.
“Vail’s Epic Promise also gives a very large gift to that. They see the importance both for their own employees. That is a huge issue for Vail and all employees in town, is affordable childcare and pre-school. So, they’ve been giving to that since they came to town in 2012.”
Billow says in Utah most kids go to pre-school, but the lower income and ESL children are less likely to attend, and it puts them further behind. Outreach is done with these families to help with registration and because it’s sliding scale, it is available for everyone.