Salt Lake county and United Way invest to educate hundreds of pre-k children

July 16, 2013
Author: Nadine Wimmer | KSL

SALT LAKE COUNTY — Every year over a thousand children from low income families place their name on a waiting list to get into Granite School District's preschool. But on Tuesday, Salt Lake County leaders teamed up with United Way to help knock that number down and give more children a fighting chance.

Since 2010, Salt Lake County leaders have set aside $84,000 to help fund Granite School Districts pre-kindergarten program, but this year they stepped up their donation to $350,000. This increase gives hundreds of children a leg up on their education, and it's an investment that city leaders are calling a no-brainier.

"This is something that we can do to break the cycle of dependency of welfare, of poverty, so that we can get these children off on their own where they are able to maximize their full potential and break the cycle of dependency for generations to come," Snell Groves said.

The increased donation will allow 600 more children to get off the waiting list and into the classroom this upcoming school year.

"(These children) have hopes, they have dreams, and so what we have done today is we have opened up the world to 600 more children to open those hopes, those dreams," said Brenda Van Gorder, director of the Granite School District preschool program.

Every year, thousands of dollars are spent on special education for children who have no learning disability, but simply weren't ready for kindergarten.

"Once they enter school behind, it is nearly impossible for them to fully catch up with the rigor of the state standards and the curriculum that needs to be taught each year," Gorder said.

The school district said that through this pre-kindergarten education they will cut the cost spent on special education because more children will be ready to start school.

Studies also show that children enrolled in pre-kindergarten are not only able to keep up in school, but are also more likely to avoid incidents involving police, graduate high school and eventually go to college.