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Strickland signs Pre-K ordinance
Strickland signs Pre-K ordinance
Posted on 05/10/2018

Mayor signing Pre-K

Mayor Jim Strickland took the final step today for the City of Memphis to fund Pre-Kindergarten, a crucial act toward achieving a community-wide goal to establish universal, needs-based Pre-K for Shelby County children.

Mayor Strickland signed into law a pair of ordinances establishing the funding mechanism, which will contribute as much as $6 million annually in City funding toward Pre-Kindergarten.

“All children in Memphis deserve a high-quality Pre-Kindergarten program so that they have a better start in life," Mayor Strickland said. "As a community, we’ve fought for this for years. I’m proud to work with City Council members to make this a reality today.

“Let’s not sell this short: Universal Pre-K can be a major driver of change in Memphis and a major spark for our future. When we talk about how we’re reinvesting in Memphis and Memphians to cast our vision of a more prosperous third century, Pre-K is at the top of the list.”

The ordinance, jointly sponsored by Mayor Strickland and members of the City Council and first announced on March 17, was passed on three readings (March 20, April 11, April 25). The Council’s Tuesday approval of its April 25 minutes meant the ordinance was formally sent to the mayor for his signature.

Mayor Strickland thanked Council members for their partnership: Chairman Berlin Boyd; Council Members Joe BrownFrank Colvett Jr., Kemp Conrad, Edmund Ford Jr., Janis Fullilove, Reid HedgepethMartavius Jones, Worth Morgan, Bill MorrisonPatrice Robinson, Jamita Swearengen; and former Council Member Philip Spinosa Jr.

The City plan uses money from expiring tax incentives and dedicates the equivalent of revenues from one cent of the current property tax rate toward a Pre-K fund.

Mayor Strickland and Council members have long championed early childhood education as a critical component of addressing Memphis’ challenges such as poverty and crime. Studies have shown that a child that can read at a third-grade level by third grade has a 90 percent chance of graduating high school — thus achieving a better outcome in life. The City has initiated literacy programming and after-school tutoring in community centers and has called for citizens to tutor second-graders as part of a Shelby County Schools program.

Mayor Strickland called the City plan “a creative solution that doesn’t touch what we’re doing now with our operating budget — doesn’t touch what we’re doing with core services like police and fire.”

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