Boston Mayor Marty Walsh said Tuesday that his new budget proposal would recommend a $15 million down payment on universal access to pre-kindergarten for all city four-year-olds within five years.
Walsh's fiscal 2020 budget is due out next week, and the money proposed would put the city on the path to create 750 seats in pre-K programs in the Boston Public Schools and in community-based organizations, such as ABCD Head Start, Boys & Girls Clubs, YMCA, and others.
The mayor made the announcement at the ABCD Walnut Grove Head Start in Dorchester.
"There is no better investment we can make than providing our children with high-quality learning opportunities from an early age," Walsh said in a statement.
According to the mayor's office, the gap between interested students and available high-quality pre-K classroom seats stood at 1,500 when Walsh took office, but has been cut in half over the last six years.
The funding in Walsh's budget for the new "Quality Pre-K Fund" would support programs that require all teachers to have a degree in early childhood education and be prepared to teach in "inclusive" classrooms for the same starting salary as a BPS teacher.
To ensure quality, Walsh's office said programs must also use Boston Public Schools Focus on K1 Curriculum and Building Blocks Curriculum, have a classrooms with a ratio of two educators to 20 students, and be accredited by a national early childhood accrediting body.