Mayor sets the mission: Double Pre-K seats by ’18

By 
Dave Eisenstadter, Special to the Reporter
May. 15, 2014

Pre K Planning: Mayor Martin Walsh announced the formation of a Universal Pre-Kindergarten Advisory Committee last week in East Boston. 	Photo by Isabel Leon/Mayor’s OfficePre K Planning: Mayor Martin Walsh announced the formation of a Universal Pre-Kindergarten Advisory Committee last week in East Boston. Photo by Isabel Leon/Mayor’s Office
In an effort to double pre-kindergarten enrollment by 2018, Mayor Martin Walsh is tapping the expertise of several key Dorchester residents in a new advisory committee.

The Universal Pre-Kindergarten Advisory Committee will include 27 members, several from Dorchester, who will meet beginning later this month and conclude in six months with a recommendation to the Mayor’s office.

There are about 6,000 four-year-olds in Boston, but only 2,200 are enrolled in the city’s Pre-Kindergarten (K1) program and one-quarter of Boston’s 4-year-olds do not attend pre-kindergarten at all, according to a statement from the Mayor’s office.

For committee member Marie St. Fleur, president of the Bessie Tartt Wilson Initiative for Children and former Fifth Suffolk District state representative, it is important that every child has an opportunity to go to a good preschool.

“I am actually very appreciative to Mayor Walsh for taking a leadership role on this issue,” St. Fleur said.

While the advisory committee has not yet formally met, St. Fleur said she believed the mayor’s office had assembled a good group.

St. Fleur also appreciated that the mayor was “putting his money where his mouth is,” she said, highlighting the inclusion of at least 100 new pre-kindergarten spots in the Boston Public Schools budget in the mayor’s plan.