“In a moment of bipartisan agreement, North Carolina lawmakers could eliminate the waiting list for free preschool in their budget negotiations this year.
“That would be huge news for thousands of parents across the state. Last year, nearly 5,000 children were on a waiting list for NC Pre-K, the state-run program that prepares 4-year-olds for school.”
North Carolina’s Governor Roy Cooper, a democrat, also supports eliminating the pre-K waiting list. His website explains:
“Governor Cooper proposes key budget investments in early childhood education including nearly 4,700 more slots for children to attend NC Pre-K to eliminate the current waitlist, $15 million more for Smart Start so students begin school ready to learn, and restoring the Child Care Tax Credit so working families can afford quality child care.”
Cooper also spoke last month at the National Smart Start Conference.
How much will eliminating the wait list cost? The fact-checking website Politifact North Carolina says:
“…around $5,200 for each new seat. And those estimates jibe with recent history. Last year the state spent an extra $1.325 million on NC Pre-K and created 260 new seats, for an average of $5,096 per seat.”
Politifact adds that Pam Kilpatrick, North Carolina’s senior assistant state budget officer, agrees that “that using both the federal funds and matching state money ought to be enough to get rid of the existing waiting list…”
Stay tuned to see how North Carolina’s budget process plays out.