Durham County

Task force to present plan for universal pre-kindergarten in Durham

A county-wide task force will meet on Thursday, April 27 to reveal a proposal that could lead to universal pre-kindergarten in Durham County.

The Community Early Education/Preschool Task Force will present the proposal to elected officials from 1:30 p.m., to 3 p.m., in the chambers of the Durham County Board of Commissioners, 200 East Main Street.

Durham officials believe universal Pre-K can improve the quality of education for Durham preschool children while increasing access for families.

County Commissioner Ellen Reckhow told Durham officials gathered last week to receive a report about how Durham’s youngest children are faring that she and her colleagues are solidly behind universal Pre-K for Durham's children.

“The fact that only 38 percent of kindergartners enter kindergarten ready to learn highlights the importance of Pre-K,” Reckhow said. “Moving to universal Pre-K is a goal of the Board of County Commissioners.”

With 50 percent of Durham County children five years old and under living in low-income families — half of them below the federal poverty line -- county and schools officials believe high quality child care and early education, with their potential to improve cognitive, academic and social outcomes for children, are desperately needed.

The task force was convened as a result of resolutions advocating universal pre-kindergarten by the Durham Public Schools Board of Education, the Durham City Council and the Durham County Board of Commissioners.

Linda Chappel, senior vice president of Triangle Area Child Care Resource and Referral Services, Child Care Services Association, and Donna-Marie Winn, senior research associate at the UNC-Chapel Hill Kenan Institute of Private Enterprise, led the task force.