About 600 at-risk kids in are in Granite School District are enrolled in preschool this year because of a new program made possible with money from Salt Lake County, Goldman Sachs and Chicago investor J.B Pritzker.
At Wright Elementary School in West Valley City, first-year teacher Lindsay Shackelford says her students are learning about shapes, the alphabet and addition.
“There is a language barrier with a lot of them, so without a program like this, they start at a different level than other kids, so having this program gives them just the stepping stools they need to be successful,” Shackelford says.
Early this summer, Goldamn Sachs and J.B Pritzker provided a $1.3 million loan for the Granite School District preschool program. At the request of Salt Lake County Mayor Ben McAdams, the county council agreed to put $350,000 toward the loan. But McAdams says taxpayers aren’t responsible for the loan. The county is only obligated to pay it back if the program saves money in the long-run.
“Our studies show that spending a dollar in preschool to fund a preschool program like this, means we will save $14 of taxpayer money by cost avoidance through other programs that these kids would fall into,” McAdams says. “Special ed, drug intervention and gang intervention.”
McAdams says he plans to expand the program in the future.
Because of the public-private partnership, 600 of the 1100 kids on a waiting list for preschool at Granite School District started this year.