Preschool Promise Plans Funding Campaign

May 21, 2015

A steering committee is working on ways to get all Cincinnati children into early education.  Preschool Promise supporters launched the committee Thursday as the next step in their quest for universal education for 3- and 4-year-olds.

The group is working on creating a tax-based funding proposal and expects it will take 12 to 15 months to complete. They plan to take it to voters in November 2016. Greg Landsman of  The Strive Partnership says the current cost estimate is $16 million to $18 million per year for just Cincinnati. If the program is extended across Hamilton County, he says the total estimate is $30 million to $35 million.

"It will invariably involve public and private money," says Landsman.

He says the group is "hiring several firms to vet the Promise and the assumptions underlying the financial model." He says a full blown needs assessment, a market analysis, and more will be completed. When asked what kind of tax the committee is considering, Landsman says all options will be considered.

The key, Landsman says, is creating a sustainable funding model for five to 10 years.

The Preschool Promise grew out of a leadership class for businesses. The current committee is made up of 35 community, business, education and faith leaders. Greg Landsman of The Strive Partnership says that means any tax proposal will be thoroughly vetted.

When the Preschool Promise was announced two years ago, the estimated yearly cost was $6 million to $9 million to run a full scale program. 

As WVXU reported in February, 2014, a 2014 University of Cincinnati study suggested Cincinnati could save $48 million if the plan is successful.

The UC Economics Center report finds the economic benefit per three-year-old class could be as large as $69.1 million if all students enrolled in the plan. However, it says similar programs in other cities usually have about 70 percent participation - leading to the $48.4 million estimate.