Voter-approved Seattle Preschool Program highlights

Remember the Seattle Preschool Program Seattle voters approved in November? Voters agreed to a $58 million property-tax levy that pays for a four-year preschool pilot program. 

The City Council is in the midst of reviewing the mayor’s plan on how to implement the program. You can find more information and a link to the plan here. A final vote is expected April 6.

The plan is 47 pages. A few highlights: 

  • Children who are 4 years old will be prioritized over 3 year olds.

  • Children are eligible if they live in Seattle and are 4 years old on Aug. 31.

  • Three year olds must also be from families with incomes equal to 300 percent of the federal poverty level or below.

  • Children who have a sibling enrolled in the program will get priority but 3 year olds must meet the income criteria and space must be available. 

  • Children who live in the same Seattle Public School attendance area as a preschool program receive priority over children from other parts of the city. Once the applicants are ranked, spots will be filled randomly. 


As cumbersome as that process sounds, the mayor’s plan promises a “simple and accessible enrollment application form” available in multiple languages. The city plans outreach so that eligible families know about the openings. Parents can sign up at various locations around the city, such as libraries, community centers and schools. 

The program plans to contract with both community and school classrooms. Which preschools get selected is based on a weighted system. Preschools near public elementary schools with low academic records receive the highest priority, followed by those that offer services for low-income families, such as Head Start preschools. After that comes preschools that can provide evidence of “high-quality practice” such as offering a multiple language program.

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