The future begins now.
Voters in the Cincinnati Public Schools (CPS) district spoke loudly and gave district students the promise of a strong start and a strong future.
Issue 44 passed by the historic margin of 62% to 38% - 87,578 to 53,845 for a margin of 33,733 votes. Its passage will provide the district an additional $48 million per year over the next five years, including $15 million for the expansion of quality preschool.
Issue 53, the Hamilton County Children's Services renewal levy also endorsed by United Way as a critical support for children, passed as well by the wide margin of 71% to 29%.
"This is a wonderful example of what can happen when the diverse elements of our community come together to achieve a goal: thousands of our children will receive a better education. It shows our community at its best," said Rob Reifsnyder, president, United Way of Greater Cincinnati.
Tapped by CPS to oversee preschool expansion, United Way will manage development of a new, nonprofit Preschool Expansion Organization, a role that includes disbursement of $15 million in levy funds annually.
The $15 million annually generated by the levy will leverage, accelerate and more than double United Way’s annual $13 million investment in early childhood education. Investing in preschool expansion increases investments in young children at the point in their lives when it can maximize brain development and strengthen school performance.
Before the money starts coming in, United Way will build a 15-member Board of Directors from candidates nominated in the coming weeks by the Cincinnati Board of Education, Cincinnati Preschool Promise, and United Way. Membership will be diverse, broadly reflective of our community and members will possess the commitment and expertise to guide the new Preschool Expansion Organization.
“We have a lot to get accomplished in the upcoming months, including getting the organization in place and building awareness,” said Stephanie Byrd, executive director, United Way Success By 6®. “While money will gradually come in starting in January, we believe a significant amount of the funding will be available by the middle of the year. We want to be prepared for children to be enrolled by the fall of 2017.”
A great deal of the near-term work will include placing a high priority on community outreach and family engagement. It’s an absolute necessity that families, preschool programs and the community know why this is important and how it will work, says Byrd.
Additionally, the Preschool Expansion Organization will work with established preschools to increase the number of high quality options available throughout the district. A recent RAND Corporation study concluded that the return on investment of the preschool model being developed is $2 to $4 for every $1 invested, with returns especially high for children from economically disadvantaged families.