City expands Seattle Preschool Program classrooms, opens applications for 2017-18 school year

Today, Mayor Ed Murray, along with Councilmember Debora Juarez and the Department of Education and Early Learning (DEEL), announced the Seattle Preschool Program (SPP) will add 20 new classrooms for the 2017-2018 school year, bringing the total number of classrooms to 53. The program will serve more than 1,000, three and four-year old students. The new classrooms expand the geographic diversity of SPP by adding seven classrooms in North Seattle. Student applications for next school year are now being accepted.

“Expanding access to early education is the best way to improve long-term academic outcomes,” said Mayor Murray. “Study after study has shown preschool leads to success in K-12 with better grades, better test scores and higher graduation rates. Continuing the growth of the Seattle Preschool Program will allow us to serve more than 1,000 students all over Seattle and create a more equitable city as the majority are students of color. It is this kind of support that will help build a long-term foundation for an equitable and sustainable city.”

Over the last decade, research has shown that investments in high-quality early learning lead to better academic results and lives for children and families. Early learning helps prepare children to enter school with the skills they need to succeed – and is one of the best ways to eliminate race-based disproportionalities in achievement, opportunities, and outcomes.

“We know from years of experience and countless studies that not all children enter kindergarten prepared to succeed in school,” said Dwane Chappelle, Director of the Department of Education and Early Learning. “It is unacceptable that income or race continue to predict success in school, which is why the Seattle Preschool Program’s continued expansion is so important. The new classrooms brought online this year will help give more children the early education leg up they deserve.”

Announcing expansion of the Seattle Preschool Program to 53 classrooms across the city serving more than 1,000 children with affordable high-quality early learning opportunities. Applications for the upcoming year open now at!

Publié par Mayor Ed Murray sur mercredi 15 mars 2017

In addition to new classrooms, the City and Seattle School District will partner to provide additional special education inclusion services within SPP classrooms at Seattle Public Schools. The Seattle School District currently provides support services to children who have been identified as having disabilities through half-day developmental preschool programs. Through this new partnership, more children will have access to full day preschool classes and the opportunity to learn and interact alongside typically developing peers. All SPP classrooms provide specialized services to children with identified disabilities, regardless of which site they attend.

“I am thrilled to announce the much-needed expansion of quality, affordable pre-K to additional locations across our city,” said District 5 Councilmember Debora Juarez. “This growth will be especially dramatic in District 5, where the number of City-run pre-K classrooms will quadruple next year. Bottom line: This program will now provide over 150 children in District 5 with the preparation they need to excel in elementary school and beyond. As Chair of the Parks, Seattle Center, Libraries and Waterfront Committee, I am particularly proud of the collaboration between Parks and DEEL that made this expansion possible.”

In this coming school year, DEEL will partner with the Seattle Parks Department on a community center initiative to offer additional spaces available for preschool providers.  Through this partnership, the City has identified community centers with space for SPP classrooms including: Northgate Community Center, Carkeek Environment Learning Center, Yesler Community Center and Rainier Beach Community Center. The City plans to bring on five more community center spaces in 2018-19.

DEEL will also be launching a pilot to implement an SPP model especially designed to support Family Child Care (FCC) providers. FCCs are licensed child care programs that run out of a private family home and are an integral part of Seattle’s early education network.

Approved by voters in 2014, SPP is a universal preschool pilot currently serving more than 600 children. SPP programs receive funding from the City, intensive coaching and training for their teachers, and access to teacher education and facility improvement funds to offer high-quality early learning opportunities for Seattle’s four-year-olds and eligible three-year-olds.

Applications for the 2017-18 Seattle Preschool Program, which opened today, are available online at and SPP aims to meet its third-year enrollment goal of 1,000 students. Parents are also able to apply by calling 206-386-1050. Parents of all four-year-olds and income-eligible three-year olds are encouraged to apply. SPP classrooms offer a variety of high-quality learning experiences all over Seattle, including several dual language programs and special education inclusive environments.

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State of the City: New Investments in Eliminating Educational Disparities

Mayor Ed Murray announced a series of new investments in education, based on recommendations that came from over a year of community engagement, aimed at addressing disparities between white students and African American/Black students and other historically underserved students of color. The City will raise revenue to provide on-going investments in enhancements to birth-to-five programs, before-and after-school opportunities, family engagement, addressing disproportionality in discipline, summer learning, school-based mentoring, and added college and career readiness programs.  It also includes a significant one-time expansion of the 13th Year Promise Scholarship.

The on-going investments (two-year totals) include:

  • Promoting Family Engagement and Collaboration – $2.7M
    Expand opportunities that increase parents’ ability to support their child’s learning and increase educators’ ability to authentically engage parents. Add funds to schools for parent engagement activities and parent advocates.
  • Enhancing Before and After School Opportunities – $35K (2018-19 School Year)
    Increase wraparound programs that occur outside of regular school hours including STEM learning opportunities, partnerships with Seattle Parks and increasing funding to community based organizations.
  • Expanding School-Based Mentoring – $581K
    Match a caring adult with every child who is struggling to keep up with school requirements. Increasing funding for successful programs like My Brother’s Keeper to additional middle schools and ensure all students have the support they need to succeed.
  • Reducing Disproportionality in Discipline – $1.5M
    Build a positive school culture and support student social-emotional development. This will include coordinated parent, student and teacher outreach so that students having issues at schools can receive personalized case management. Funding will also be made available to train teachers and staff on how to reduce discipline disparities.
  • Increasing Innovation School Investments – $3.8M
    Develop a tiered approach to intervention with students who are performing below grade-level to equalize the playing field. This funding will expand the number of middle and high schools getting flexible funds—a model that asks the school to creatively meet the needs of their students. Programs can include: social/emotional support, college and career planning, experiential learning, more rigorous curricula and culturally relevant curricula.
  • Growing Summer Learning Programs – $2M
    Provide struggling students with additional academic time to catch up with their peers, free and nutritious meals, and high quality enrichment experiences. Programs funded could include cultural or gender specific programming for summer enrichment activities.
  • Adding Workplace-Based Learning Programs – $2M
    Foster post-secondary success and workplace preparedness by providing stipends for students to experience career opportunities.
  • Supporting Educator Workforce Diversity – $841K
    Create opportunities for instructional assistants to earn their teaching certificates. Funding will provide more support for diverse assistants to gain credentials needed to join the teaching corps, facilitating an easier pipeline process.
  • Expanding Birth to 5 year Investments – $4M
    Expanding programs to care for and prepare children with social and academic skills, setting them up for academic success in school.
  • 13th Year Investment – $5M (one time investment)
    The 13th Year Promise Scholarship provides scholarship and payment assistance – along with college readiness classes – to graduates from select Seattle Public High Schools for the first year attending any of the Seattle Colleges.  The new funding will help create an endowment to help expand the program, managed by the Seattle Colleges.

Ongoing Collaboration:
Mayor Murray has also challenged the City to create strong relationships across all sectors – business philanthropy, higher education community based organization, parents, students and educators – so the vision of an equitable Seattle can be achieved. The City and Seattle Public Schools will be convening an education roundtable with community and business partners to knit together a shared public and private vision for ending the opportunity gap together.

To implement this action plan, Mayor Murray announced the partnership and financial contributions of key members of the philanthropic community, in addition to a measure to raise revenue. Contributors include:

  • Seattle Foundation
  • Casey Family Programs
  • Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation
  • Raikes Foundation
  • Seattle Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce

In November, the City received recommendations from the Education Summit Advisory Group and began working to implement programs which will effectively address the achievement gap. The City is already working to address systemic inequity in 2017 by increasing summer learning programs to serve an additional 200 students including investing in culturally relevant programs, expanding My Brother’s Keeper to five additional middle schools and implementing the innovation school model in a high school.  The Department of Education and Early Learning will work to dovetail the additional program investments announced today with ongoing work to end disparities in education.

These recommendations resulted from a community engagement process that heard from more than 2,000 community voices and culminated in the first citywide Education Summit in more than 25 years.

The City remains committed to working with our partners in Olympia to pass a statewide funding plan for basic education that ensures that all students, no matter their zip code or background, have equal opportunities for success.


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First year of preschool program a success, DEEL to increase per-child payments

Mayor Edward Murray announced today that the Seattle Department of Education and Early Learning (DEEL) is making enhancements to the Seattle Preschool Program (SPP) after a successful first school year that served 280 students in 15 classrooms.

“Any preschool program aiming to prepare kids for kindergarten and beyond has to prioritize achieving high quality, said Murray. “This is why we first launched the Seattle Preschool Program as a pilot program that would allow us to make adjustments as we gradually scale up. The big lesson learned after Year One is that we need to make it more attractive for providers to participate in the program, including reducing barriers and enhancing the providers’ financial incentives and the per-child investment.”

In order to maintain the high-quality standards of the program and facilitate SPP’s expansion across the city, the City will raise the payments to its early learning providers by an average of 21 percent in Year Two. Funding to each provider varies based upon their funding structure.

“We are incredibly lucky to have such amazing partners in SPP,” said early learning director, Monica Liang-Aguirre. “They are true pioneers in quality early learning and have provided great insight into the on-the-ground implications of SPP. Being responsive to them helps us ensure that the program is successful and sustainable.”


In addition to the rate increase, City Council approved additional enhancements to the program this spring, including expediting the curriculum waiver, updating the student selection process to be more “parent friendly”, and allowing providers who serve targeted populations to reserve a select number of spaces in their classroom to enroll on their own.

“After a very successful first year, we have identified reasonable adjustments to move the pilot forward, serving more children while maintaining high-quality classroom experiences,” said Councilmember Tim Burgess. “A high-quality preschool program is one of the most effective investments we could possibly make to close the opportunity gap for so many of our kids. There will likely be further adjustments as we move through the pilot phase and prepare for a city-wide rollout.”

To accommodate the higher payment structure, DEEL will adjust the program’s expansion targets. SPP was projected to reach 2,000 children by year four; DEEL has now adjusted this target to 1,615 children annually by the fourth year.

“Ultimately, we are learning what it costs to ensure that our classrooms are high-quality,” said Liang-Aguirre.

Additionally, DEEL has awarded facility development grants to three providers: Refugee Women’s Alliance, Causey’s Learning Center, and Sound Childcare Solutions Hoa Mai preschool. These funds will support these organizations to build an additional 70 preschool slots for the Seattle Preschool Program. Capital funds are also being invested in city Parks facilities and in the development of Fire Station 39 in Lake City into a mixed use low-income housing facility.


Program expansion adjustments and provider payment changes will take effect for the 2016-17 school year.

Seattle Preschool Program is a four-year levy-funded, city-wide preschool program. The program offers high-quality preschool to Seattle’s 3- and 4-year olds while also learning what it takes to make universal preschool a scalable reality in Seattle.

The four-year pilot program funds early learning providers to operate preschool classrooms in partnership with the City, and supports these programs with funding, student enrollment, professional development, classroom coaching, access to capital improvement funds, tuition funds for staff, and other quality program supports.

Murray seeks improvements to Seattle Preschool Program

Today Mayor Ed Murray is asking the City Council to approve key adjustments to the Seattle Preschool Program in response to community feedback to allow more flexibility in the program’s policies without compromising classroom quality. The policy changes are designed to be more responsive to family needs, and to strengthen partnerships with high-quality preschool providers.

“The Seattle Preschool Program was developed as a demonstration program to learn how we can best provide high-quality preschool to Seattle children,” said Murray. “We are eager to continuously improve to better serve our kids and our program partners.”

The proposed policy changes would allow the City to honor families’ desire to minimize transitions in the early childhood years. The proposed change would allow the Seattle Preschool Program to “grandfather-in” children rising from toddler classrooms into preschool classrooms. Additionally, the mayor is proposing, where possible, to prioritize students’ matching to preschools located at the elementary school that they will later attend for kindergarten.

The Mayor has also proposed to accelerate the development of a curriculum waiver process. This allows more high-quality providers to be Seattle Preschool Program eligible by opening up to programs that have invested in training and support for an evidence-based curriculum that is not currently utilized in the Seattle Preschool Program.

This current school year, the Seattle Preschool Program served over 250 children across the City. Next year, the program will grow in both number of children served and classrooms offered. Applications are still being accepted for enrolling 3-year old or 4-years old into a classroom for the 2016-2017 school year. Please visit to apply or call (206) 386-1050.

Seattle also funds supports for classroom teachers by providing access to higher education programs and funding to attend those programs. Teachers are supported with curriculum training and ongoing in-class coaching.

“Our desire is to make this program the best it can be for Seattle’s children and families. We anticipate that over the next few years we will continue to learn more about how we can create a program that provides the best opportunities to our youngest learners,” said Monica Liang-Aguirre, Director of Early Learning for the City’s Department of Education and Early Learning.

Seattle Preschool Program seeks additional partners for 2016-17 expansion

The Seattle Preschool Program (SPP) is seeking additional preschools to join the program for 2016-17 school year. The Department of Education and Early Learning, which launched SPP’s first cohort of 15 classrooms this fall, will be accepting applications from providers to nearly triple the program to 39 classrooms next year.

“Quality preschool is changing the lives of three- and four-year-olds,” said Mayor Ed Murray. “We will continue to expand this opportunity for more kids, opening the door to preschool for all Seattle families, regardless of income.”

Approved by voters in 2014, the Seattle Preschool Program is a levy-funded universal preschool demonstration project currently serving 280 children. SPP preschools receive funding from the City, intensive instructional coaching and training for their teachers, and access to teacher education and facility improvement funding in order to offer high-quality early learning opportunities to Seattle’s youngest students. SPP classrooms provide well-paid and highly trained teachers, offer a research-based curriculum and is free or affordable for families.

“We are pleased that a group of such dedicated preschool practitioners joined us this year as pioneers in the Seattle Preschool Program,” said Monica Liang-Aguirre, director of the Department’s Early Learning Division. “Together we have learned a great deal about how to make this program work for providers and families and we look forward to an even better experience in our second year. SPP is a wonderful opportunity for improving educational opportunities for all of our students and we look forward to welcoming a new cohort of preschool providers to SPP to further develop our program.”

Preschool centers and schools interested in participating must be able to dedicate at least two classrooms to the program, be located within Seattle city limits, licensed by the State of Washington, and rated a three or higher under the State’s Early Achievers rating system.

A panel of early learning experts, City staff, and community education advocates will review the applications and determine which preschools will be selected to join the Seattle Preschool Program in the fall of 2016.

Applications for becoming an SPP preschool will be available on the Department of Education and Early Learning’s website: The deadline for submitting applications is December 14, 2015. Selected providers will be announced in early 2016.

City staff will be available to explain the application process and answer questions at information sessions on November 17 at the Seattle Public Library at 10548 5th Avenue NE and on November 20 at the library at 2821 Beacon Avenue South.

Applications for families with preschoolers interested in participating in next school year will be available by March.