New bill looks to establish universal Pre-K for all Ohio children

All Ohio children could be eligible for free public preschool under a new proposal from state Senator Teresa Fedor (D-Toledo).

Fedor, who is also running for lieutenant governor, recently introduced Senate Bill 318. It says Ohio would establish a universal preschool program “in the event that Congress appropriates funds for that purpose.”

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The federal funding Fedor references in the bill is the Build Back Better Act., which would have to be passed by Congress and get the President’s signature to cover the cost of public preschool in states for six years. The law would require a 40 percent state match by year six.

Fedor has told reporters if her bill doesn’t pass, her backup plan would be a state constitutional amendment.

One of the biggest things state lawmakers will have to considers with the proposal is the cost of state-funded preschool in Ohio.

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In Dayton, there are roughly 1,800 students enrolled in the Preschool Promise Program at a cost of $4,167 per student. The program is budgeted at $7.5 million.

The state averages roughly 120,000 students per grade level, so a similar statewide preschool program could cost nearly $500,000,000.

News Center 7′s John Bedell checked Monday and S.B. 318 is in the Senate Committee. It would have to pass the Ohio Senate and House and then get the governor’s signature to become law.