by Elizabeth Turnbull
On a blustery Tuesday afternoon, Mayor Bruce Harrell and other City leaders announced the expansion of the Seattle Preschool Program (SPP) and the start of the 2022–2023 application period.
“Today’s a great day … Educating these kids looks like what you see here with Susan and her staff, making sure these kids have an opportunity to succeed,” Harrell said, referring to Susan Yang, the executive director of the Denise Louie Education Center, an organization that provides early-learning services to nearly 1,000 children.
As many as 2,144 students will now be able to enroll for the upcoming school years, an addition of 144 seats. The program was recently expanded by seven additional classrooms throughout the city.
The City originally started the program in 2015 to provide a good education for 3- and 4-year-olds in Seattle in order to ensure they were ready for kindergarten. Funding for the program comes from the Families, Education, Preschool, and Promise (FEPP) Levy, which means that most parents do not have to pay for the program and any cost is based on household income and family size.
At a press conference on Tuesday, March 15, Harrell highlighted how the program hopes to provide more and more equal opportunities for some of the youngest students in the city.
“We want to thank the voters again for using their tax dollars, making sure that our kids — particularly African American students, but all students — get a great opportunity to self-optimize,” Harrell said. “I will tell you that in our One Seattle vision that these kids who come out eager to learn will be loved.”
During this school year, 77% of students enrolled in the preschool program identified as Black, Indigenous, and People of Color, and approximately one-third of all African American kindergartners in Seattle Public Schools were previously enrolled in SPP, according to information from the City.
SPP education is available for families throughout the city at some Seattle Public Schools and also at locations run by community-based providers. Unlike many City resources that are concentrated in North Seattle, SPP locations stretch throughout South Seattle from Columbia City to the southern city limits.
SPP also offers dual-language programs in English and Spanish, Mandarin, Somali, Arabic, and other languages as well as programs for those who are hearing impaired. Other resources are also available for students with disabilities through the SPP Plus program.
Applications for the program are now open to families who are interested. Parents who are experiencing homelessness are able to input the street closest to where they sleep in place of a permanent home address.
To be applicable for the program, children must be 3- to 4-years-old by Aug. 31 of the school year for which they apply, and they must live within Seattle city limits.
Families can find information about the program at www.seattle.gov/applySPP and those who need language assistance to complete the application process can contact the Seattle Department of Education & Early Learning (DEEL) at 206-386-1050 or email email@example.com.
Elizabeth Turnbull is a journalist with reporting experience in the U.S. and the Middle East. She has a passion for covering human-centric issues and doing so consistently.
📸 Featured Image: Children wait outside a Central District preschool. (Photo: Alex Garland)
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