Philadelphia's push to make high-quality preschool available citywide has taken another step with the inaugural meeting of the Mayor's Commission on Universal Pre-Kindergarten.
The 17-member commission, established by a voter referendum in May, now faces a long list of questions, including where preschool programs should be located and who should be hired to provide them.
But the commission's co-chair, Sharon Easterling, said the biggest question that the group must contend with is how to pay for the programs.
"High-quality programs are not cheap, but make no mistake," said Easterling, head of the Delaware Valley Association for the Education of Young Children. "They're far less expensive than ... special education, juvenile justice, incarceration, welfare dependency, and chronic health problems — all of which are ameliorated when children get off to a good start in life."
City officials are counting on the state for much of the funding, and Gov. Wolf has requested about $100 million in this year's budget to support pre-K programs. But Harrisburg Republicans are proposing a much more modest increase of about $25 million.