Study: PA preschool per-student funding increases, enrollment down

Written by Craig Layne and Radio Pennsylvania | May 16, 2013 4:43 AM

(Undated) -- Pennsylvania is among a dozen states to increase preschool funding in the last school year, but a new study shows despite the uptick, advocates are concerned about the future of early education in the state.

The report from the National Institute for Early Education Research shows the commonwealth spent nearly $5,500 on each child in pre-K programs.

That's up nearly $400 per student from 2011, but the study says the increase is due to falling enrollment.

Director Steve Barnett says the state ranks 28th nationally for its enrollment numbers, and falls behind in benchmarks like teacher education requirements.

He says other studies have shown investment in preschool pays off years later.

"If a child gets a good preschool education, they're less likely to fail and repeat a grade, less likely to be in special education, less likely to drop out of school, less likely to end up in prison," Barnett explains.

Pennsylvania currently ranks 9th nationally for pre-K funding.

The current state budget increased Pre-K Counts and Head Start funding by roughly 5 percent, and the governor's proposed spending plan calls for another 5 percent boost.

Barnett says the commonwealth will need to increase spending more rapidly if it wants to include more children in the program.

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