Pre-K Commission: City Will Partner With Other Providers If Voters Approve Pre-K Initiative

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(Memphis) It's a tall order, providing an early education to 5,000 4-year-olds, but the City of Memphis says it's ready to change a lot of children's lives.

Pastor Keith Norman is helping lead the charge as Co-Chair of the Commission that will implement the program, if voters approve the funding and if the City Council approves the Commission members.

"We are gonna establish ways to go about making application, also work around these programs already in existence," said Norman.

The first step will be for the  Commission to put out a Request For Proposals.

Organizations that already have pre-k programs in place, like Porter Leath, as well as small pre-k providers and start-ups, are expected to apply.

"It would benefit them because they want to expand their programs. It benefits the city because it  allows us to meet our goal of expansion," said Norman.

By partnering, the city won't have to hire staff, find buildings or create curriculums.

The existing pre-ks will handle those things and in turn use city funds to add-on to their program so they can get specialized  teachers, hire additional aids, help parents develop skills and  even get accreditation.

"We want a better Memphis for the future. We want to see opportunities for kids to have Pre-K education to help them to read at the proper level by third grade and help them excel their senior year in high school and go on to college," says Norman.

The Commission will study pre-k programs in other cities and right here at home to see how to model the city's pre-k.

A big part of the job will be oversight, making sure providers they partner with have annual audits and even report cards to show how they are doing, since they are getting city money.

If passed, the pre-k program is expected to start in the fall of 2014.


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