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‘It has put San Antonio on the map,’: CEO of Pre-K 4 SA discusses early learning program

In its first eight years, Pre-K 4 SA will have served over 450,000 children in San Antonio, CEO says

SAN ANTONIO – San Antonio voters will be asked if they want to continue to support Pre-K 4 SA, an early learning program, on the Nov. 3 ballot.

Sarah Baray, CEO for Pre-K 4 SA, joined Leading SA on Sunday to discuss what voters need to know about the program before heading to the polls.

“Pre-K 4 SA is San Antonio’s premier early learning program, and a lot of people know about our four award-winning education centers where we serve 500 four-year-olds in each one of those every year. But we also provide free, best-in-class professional learning and $4.2 million in grants to other programs, as well as a tremendous family engagement program to help families be the first and best teachers for their children,” Baray said.

In the first eight years of Pre-K 4 SA, Baray said the program will have served over 450,000 children in San Antonio.

“The economists will tell you that putting money into early learning is an investment. And a study of Pre-K 4 SA has shown that San Antonio has gotten $59 million dollars back in benefits from Pre-K 4 SA in its first eight years. And that’s after you consider the cost of the program. So, what they would tell you is when you pay a tax for high quality early learning, you’re really investing in your own community’s future,” Baray said.

Voters want to know what this means for local tax dollars. Baray said there’s no new tax on the program being proposed; instead, it’s a vote toward continuing the program.

“So, there’s no new tax on this. This is just to continue this amazing program that actually has shown tremendous success. This is a proven program and it has put San Antonio on the map. San Antonio is the envy of communities across the nation because we were so smart to invest early in our youngest learners. And we’re getting such big payoffs because the program was built to be high quality. And what economists will tell you is when you invest in high quality early learning, you can get a seven to 10% return on your investment in San Antonio. We’re getting a 56% return on our investment,” Baray said.

The continuation of the program could only help more students and families around the area, Baray said.

Now some of our school districts are able to offer pre-K, full-day pre-K, to eligible children. But we still have over 40% of our 4-year-olds in San Antonio. They don’t qualify for a free public program... So, that’s where we’re gonna focus is partnering with programs to create seats for those 3,000 families every year who before this didn’t have access,” Baray said.

To learn more about Pre-K 4 SA, you can watch the full interview with Baray in the video player above.

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