Consultants Urge Universal Pre-K

The school funding consultants hired by the state to evaluate adequacy of the current state funding system have released another component report, in which they recommend Maryland adopt a universal pre-kindergarten program for four year old children.

The report is among many presented to an “Adequacy Study” stakeholder group, who are guiding the ongoing work of the consultants and the State Department of Education. The materials are all available on the MSDE website for the group.

From today’s presentation, the consultants reviewed costs and benefits of pre-kindergarten programs in some detail. Transplanting projections onto Maryland’s populations, using some estimates that the consultants termed “conservative” yielded a “return on investment” value of 4.36-5.54 — suggesting each dollar spent on early education in these formats yielded reductions in other costs to schools, public safety, social services, and other public services.

Their conclusion page summarizes their suggestion:

Offer universal prekindergarten in Maryland, providing funding for 80 percent of Maryland’s four-year-olds to attend a high-quality prekindergarten program.

Their analysis makes some effort to estimate costs of such an offering, targeting a total figure of $440 million in addition to services currently rendered.

For more information, view a selection of relevant pages from today’s presentation, or read the more comprehensive full report on Maryland prekindergarten.

The consultants have reported in several areas as their work has progressed, and are pointing toward a synthesis this fall of their collective recommendations into a complete set of proposed recommendations to Maryland’s school funding model.

Michael Sanderson

Executive Director Maryland Association of Counties