Mayor McGinn wants city to provide high-quality preschool for every child

by: Essex Porter Updated:

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SEATTLE - Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn wants the city to provide high-quality preschool for every child. Today he announced he's putting money into next year's budget to start the process.

McGinn met with preschoolers and made the announcement at the Denise Louie Education Center in Seattle's international district.

McGinn is including $50,000 to study how to implement universal preschool for 3 and 4-year-olds in the city. "I just see that this is a win in every direction towards building a city we want to build where every child has opportunity," McGinn said.

This comes on the heels of a Seattle City Council committee voting to begin a study of universal preschool earlier this week.

Preliminary cost estimates are $7,000-$8,000 per student. Voters may be asked to approve new taxes to pay for it. But critics believe the city should stick to the basics. "Streets and roads, even street maintenance, these are areas where the citizens are constantly being told that the city doesn't have enough money and then we hear that they want to take on a whole new mission," said Paul Guppy, vice president of the conservative Washington Policy Center.

"We can wait to see whether Olympia could find its way to (universal preschool) in the future or we can try to lead here ourselves and look out for the kids," says McGinn.

Ed Murray, McGinn's challenger for re-election, also supports universal preschool. 

"I can see that the candidates for mayor would perceive this as a popular initiative and something that they're using in this cycle to gain attention for their reelection campaigns," says Guppy.

McGinn's preschool plans will be part of his budget speech to the City Council on Monday. If approved, the study will be done by next spring, and universal preschool could begin as early as 2015.