Philadelphia, June 30, 2015– Mayor Michael A. Nutter announced the launch of the Commission on Universal Pre-Kindergarten, which was approved through a ballot question by Philadelphia voters on May 19, 2015. The Commission is charged with conducting a comprehensive analysis and implementation plan for adopting universal pre-kindergarten for all 3- and 4-year olds in Philadelphia, including recommending funding proposals. The Commission is required to submit a draft funding plan to the Mayor and City Council by January 15, 2016. Following a comment period, the Commission will submit their final report to the Mayor and City Council by April 15, 2016.
“Providing a high-quality education to our young people is the best possible way for our city to develop a robust economy, eliminate poverty, improve quality of life, and reduce violence,” said Mayor Nutter. “I am delighted that the voters of Philadelphia overwhelmingly approved the ballot question to create the Commission on Universal Pre-kindergarten. This Commission will address, head on, one of the major challenges facing Philadelphia—how to educate our children. It will work to ensure we have a sustainable funding plan, which will allow us to implement and maintain high-quality pre-kindergarten to better prepare thousands of children per year to enter our K-12 school system.”
Councilwoman Jannie Blackwell, sponsor of the resolution, said, “Nothing could be more important than giving our youth the chance to have positive lives and to get them started in gaining positive educations. Pre-k is one of the major issues of our day; we look forward to making it a reality in our City.”
The Commission on Universal Pre-Kindergarten will meet no fewer than six times with at least two meetings held for public comment. Its’ final report will comprise relevant legislative, administrative, or policy recommendations, including:
- Recommendations to the Mayor and Council for achieving a universal pre-kindergarten program, including a timeline and estimated costs; and,
- One or more proposed Council bills to raise revenues sufficient to fund the program proposed by the Commission, with other reliable revenue sources, as available.
The co-chairs of the Commission are Sharon Easterling, Executive Director of the Delaware Valley Association for the Education of Young Children, and Loretta Sweet Jemmott, Vice President for Health and Health Equity at Drexel University.
The other members of the Commission on Universal Pre-Kindergarten are:
- Councilwoman Jannie Blackwell
- Councilwoman Blondell Reynolds-Brown
- Catherine Blunt, Former Principal, Parkway Center City High School
- Miriam Calderon, Senior Advisor for Early Leaning, Commonweal Foundation
- Diane Castelbuono, Deputy Chief for Early Learning, School District of Philadelphia
- Donna Cooper, Executive Director, Public Citizens for Children and Youth (PCCY)
- Rob Dubow, Director of Finance, City of Philadelphia
- Jennifer Duffy, Principal, Henry Lea Elementary School
- Michelle Figlar, Deputy Secretary of the Office of Child Development and Early Learning, Pennsylvania Department of Education
- Vanessa Garrett-Harley, Commissioner of the Department of Human Services, City of Philadelphia
- Alan Greenberger, Deputy Mayor for Economic Opportunity and Director of Commerce, City of Philadelphia
- Reuben Jones, Executive Director, Frontline Dads, Inc.
- Pheng Lim, Principal, Folk Arts-Cultural Treasures (FACT) Charter School
- Lisa Nutter, President, Philadelphia Academies, Inc.
The Commission will be supported by staff from the Mayor’s Office of Policy & Planning, the Mayor’s Office of Community Empowerment & Opportunity and the Office of Finance. All Commission members will serve without compensation.