As part of an overall effort to improve education for Cleveland children, the Cleveland Metropolitan School District partnered with the philanthropic sector, business community, and representatives of the charter sector to develop a plan to fundamentally reinvent public education in Cleveland, creating The Cleveland Plan for Transforming Schools. This plan was presented to the Governor and the Ohio General Assembly and was adopted in July of 2012. That November, a $15 million property tax levy was passed to enact provisions of the Cleveland Plan. One of the six core goals of the Cleveland Plan was to make high-quality preschool available for every four-year-old, then three-year-old, in the City of Cleveland. A Pre-K Task Force of more than 30 Cleveland area organizations was convened in October of 2013 to create a roadmap for this goal. The PRE4CLE plan, developed by this Task Force, would more than double the number of children in high-quality preschool programs and make preschool available to more than 70 percent of the city’s 5,400 four-year- olds. It was approved by the city and school leadership and adopted in March of 2014.
PRE4CLE includes rigorous child-level and system-level benchmarks based off the new state multi-dimensional kindergarten readiness assessment and Ohio’s child care quality rating system. It emphasizes equitable compensation for teachers and expanded access to scholarship programs for teachers seeking degrees. The first wave of PRE4CLE expansion enrollees entered high-quality preschool programs in August of 2014, with nearly 350 additional seats available, and a target of over 1,100 four-year-olds in the first year. Private partners have not only engaged in the design and development of PRE4CLE, but they have made philanthropic investments to leverage local government dollars and reach additional children with high-quality services. Cuyahoga County, which encompasses the City of Cleveland, has a program called Invest in Children that engages government and private organizations to help achieve a common goal of increased public services for early childhood. Invest in Children’s programs include universal preschool, home visiting services, and home-based early literacy services. The program is largely funded through grants from a variety of charitable organizations, such as the Cleveland Foundation and other local philanthropic groups.