City council discusses how to fund pre-K

MEMPHIS, TN (WMC) - Memphis City Council discussed how to fund early childcare for citizens.

The pre-K discussion lasted about 30 minutes at Tuesday's council meeting. Nothing was voted on, but it was the beginning of a larger discussion about if and how the city will fund pre-K.

"Our greatest concern is to ensure that our children get the best education they can," council member Patrice Robinson said.

Robinson suggested taking $5 million annually from the hotel/motel tax to invest in pre-K funding. She said the increase of that tax from one percent to five percent would be worth it.

"Pre-K is one of the things that is important," Robinson said.

"You can't argue with the data, pre-K works for our children here and gives them the opportunity to succeed," Mark Sturgis, who works for the nonprofit Seeding Success, said.

Sturgis' non-profit does research on pre-K success. He said he's losing some pre-K federal funding in 2019, and they're trying to give the 8,500 4-year-olds in Shelby County a seat in classrooms.

"We can't tell a thousand 4-year-olds your seat's gone," he said.

Sturgis said data shows when 4-year-olds go through pre-K, 82 percent leave on grade level.

City councilman Martavious Jones doesn't believe the funding should come from the hotel/motel tax, but he's all for the investment in our children.

"I still think that our investment in children as a city of Memphis is insufficient," Jones said.

Jones added it is worth having a conversation with the county.

There will be more presentations and discussions about pre-K funding in the future.

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