Report: Universal Pre-K in Montgomery County Could Cost Up to $128 Million Annually

Analysis finds long-term benefits of early education outweigh the expense


Published:

Offering universal pre-kindergarten programs in Montgomery County would cost between $113 million and $128 million each year, according to a new legislative analysis.

The report released to County Council members on Tuesday found that early learning programs pay off by reducing child welfare and criminal justice costs, lowering spending on special education and school support, and increasing future income for participants. Legislative analysts also determined that high-quality, full-day programs lead to the best student outcomes. But extending these programs to all 13,000 of the county’s 4-year-old children would be no small feat, according to the report by the county’s Office of Legislative Oversight.

Montgomery County’s existing public preschool, which costs $23 million each year, is only available to about 3,300 children and is composed largely of half-day programs, according to the report.

Lengthening all existing classes to run the entire day and opening up 1,100 new slots for lower-income families could cost up to $35 million annually, the county analysts estimated in the report. Creating half-day programs for all families earning more than 300 percent of the federal poverty level could add as much as $35 million each year. Serving these families with all-day classes could cost up to $35 million more, the report estimated. 

However, the long-term benefit of offering pre-K to all children could total nearly $600 million each year, the analysts found.

County Council member Hans Riemer said he's considering a proposal that would invest in a quality pre-kindergarten program for low-income families. He discussed his plan at a community meeting in Silver Spring on Monday night where he estimated the program would cost about $20 million per year. He also said he expects other council members to put forth different proposals.

Most jurisdictions that have pursued universal pre-K have rolled out the expansion gradually, the report indicated. For instance, Boston and West Virginia phased in their services over the course of a decade.

States that provide universal pre-K often tap into lottery revenue or general funds to support the programs, the research showed. Local jurisdictions typically rely on sales and property tax revenues or fees from sliding-scale tuition payments to pay for preschool education.

The report suggested that council members gauge educators’ interest in expanding pre-K, discuss how to fund new slots and consider focusing resources on lower-income communities.

The council in 2015 directed the legislative analysts to prepare the report.

Andrew Metcalf contributed to this report.

Back to Bethesda Beat

Edit Module
Edit ModuleShow Tags

Archive »Related Articles

Child Pornography Charges Dropped Against Second Former Rockville Rape Case Suspect

Henry Sanchez Milian, 19, now faces no charges related to the case

Universities at Shady Grove’s Biomedical Sciences Center Building Project on Track for 2019

County executive, university representatives begin pushing state to support new programs

Sold in Bethesda, Chevy Chase and Potomac: Oct. 16-22

Notable homes sold in the last week

Teen Died After SUV Struck Him in Derwood

Hyundai hit 19-year-old on Shady Grove Road early Saturday morning
Edit ModuleShow Tags Edit Module
Edit Module
Edit ModuleShow Tags

Sponsored Content

Join Us on November 15 To See how the Democratic Candidates for Montgomery County Executive will Lead Us Into the Future

This free event will be hosted by The Greater Bethesda Chamber of Commerce and Bethesda Beat. Get your free tickets here.
Edit ModuleShow Tags

More »

Renovated Colonial

Bethesda, $1,995,000

Exquisite Condo

Chevy Chase, $2,650,000

Lovely Corner Lot

Bethesda, $1,200,000

Stunning Renovation

Bethesda, $1,664,000

Beautiful Finishes and a Pool

Bethesda, $1,459,000
Edit Module

Profiles

Your Guides to Leading
Local Professionals

Edit Module
Edit ModuleShow Tags Edit Module

Edit Module