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Survey: Most Seattle Kids Enrolled In Pre-K, But Not As Many Attend Full-Time

Cliff Owen
AP Photo
Pre-kindergarten teaching assistant Mirna Ayala, left, and teacher Laura Amling, right, work with their 3-year-old students to draw an alphabet shape at Powell Elementary School in Washington, D.C.

Most Seattle parents put their kids in preschool, but only one-third of the city's children attend full time and — according to results of a citywide survey of 1,300 parents released Tuesday — black and Latino families especially struggle to afford pre-K services. 

The results of the city-commissioned poll come less than a week before City Council members get their first look at legislation that would place a four-year, $58 million property tax question before voters this November that would eventually fund 2,000 pre-K slots in the city if approved.

Leaders of the city's education office have said Seattle's current preschool options often vary widely in cost and quality. Of the participants in the telephone survey, 52 percent reported sending their child to preschool for fewer than six hours per day, five days per week — the common benchmark of a "full-time" preschool.

Roughly one out of six Seattle parents surveyed reported not sending their children to preschool at all.

"Just over two thirds of parents who did not use outside home care for their child indicated that they would have been interested [in] high quality preschool for their child if it had been available and affordable," a memo accompanying the survey results said.

Seattle Mayor Ed Murray unveiled details of his plan to begin a four-year "demonstration project" earlier this month. If the voters approve it, the tax increase would pay for 280 students to attend preschool in the program's first year, 2015-16.

Members of the City Council are expected to discuss the survey results during a briefing Tuesday morning.

Kyle Stokes covers the issues facing kids and the policies impacting Washington's schools for KPLU.