City leaders vote to fund Pre-K plan

MEMPHIS, Tenn. —City leaders are coming together to make sure Pre-Kindergarten education remains a priority.

Not only will the investment build better minds, it's hoped that it will also help the city battle its two biggest challenges - poverty and crime.

It wasn't an easy task, but city leaders have come up with a long term plan to fund Pre-K education without touching the current operating budget.

$6 million a year will now be dedicated to fund universal needs based on Pre-K education.

"The city of Memphis has decided to establish a Pre-K fund so moving forward, we can help fund needs based on Pre-K education," a council member said.

Under the proposal, funding for Pre-K will come from two places.

First will be property tax revenues that come from expiring pilots from corporations and the equivalent of one penny from property tax rates will be re-located to Pre-K.

"That's the idea. No tax increases for anybody, just revenues we forecast to come in. We know reliably will come in, and we are trying to be as predictable as we possibly can," Chief Operating Officer Doug McGowen said.

McGowen, and his department were tasked with coming up with the funding plan after a grant that partially funds Pre-K in Shelby County expired.

"It was a $34 million grant that was given some years ago. Part of that grant is expiring in 2019," McGowen said.

If that funding was not replaced, the current Pre-K program would loose one thousand spots.

But not only does the permanent city funding help keep those spots, it will also add additional seats.

"The idea of the program is not only to preserve the 7,500 seats that we have, but to add another thousand seats through this program," McGowen said.

Those spots will be added over two years, making the total numbers 8,500 and helping to meet the need of the community.

"It's a big step forward for the community here, and we are very excited," McGowen said.