Small number of kids expected in year 1 of Toledo universal Pre-K

TOLEDO, Ohio (WTVG) - Toledo's universal Pre-K school program is expected to begin this fall but not with a tremendous number of kids.

13abc now learning that this year will be more of a "pilot program".

The city is estimating less than 100 4-year-olds will participate in the program this year. There will be a long way to go because it's estimated the city has about 4000 4-year-olds.

The idea is set, it will be a universal Pre-K program for Toledo kids. With the hope to make sure all 4-year-olds are kindergarten ready.

Getting through the details is taking time. Currently consultants are putting the pieces together. Things like what buildings to use, how to register the kids and maybe biggest of all how to pay for it.

As for facilities it probably won't look like traditional school.

"That's a model that uses both private sector, public sector, non-profit, for-profit organizations, day care centers, preschool educators," said Gretchen DeBacker with the City of Toledo.

Private donations will kick the program off. At the beginning, it's expected to cost about $7 million a year. When all 4-year-olds are registered that cost is estimated to get closer to $12 million.

DeBacker says a long-term funding source is not yet worked out.

Other cities have state mandated and funded universal Pre-K. She admits some communities have gone with sales or income tax increases but Toledo's not there yet.

13abc asked if they foresee any tax increases.

“Not at this time, not right now, no," said DeBacker.

The city doesn't yet have the systems worked out to actually register kids for this first year, starting in the fall. That information is expected in the near future. Those consultants’ reports are expected now to be completed in July.