PHILADELPHIA, PA - This current school year, money generated from the Philadelphia beverage tax is already allowing close to 2,000 additional preschoolers to attend a tuition free school. Philadelphia’s expanded Pre-K program began Wednesday at close to 100 schools in the city.
Betty Burke-Howell’s 3-year-old daughter, Khloe, is now enrolled at Casa Del Carmen in North Philadelphia, which is one of the schools with a newly expanded quality Pre-K.
Burke-Howell explained, “This is her first time in preschool. She loves it here. I love it here. She was home with me and I tried one daycare, one preschool before this preschool, and not so good, but here I haven't had that experience.”
Burke-Howell told PHL17 that her daughter is now getting a great education, and now that preschool is free, it’s making all the difference at home. “I was paying a lot of money for Khloe to go to school at first. Now I'm able to pay some bills early; it's very helpful. Because of the newly created Philadelphia beverage tax, Casa Del Carmen was able to enroll 16 additional preschoolers this year.
Christopher Gale is the Administrator of Casa Del Carmen and said, “We started at 44. We were awarded 60 slots and we are eventually hoping to get to 73. At that point we will be at full capacity.”
Gale told PHL17 they needed to buy new desks and new bookshelves to accommodate the new students. Gale said his school will eventually be reimbursed with money from the beverage tax. “I know it's controversial, but for us, it's been fantastic, and for a family it's been awesome.”
City officials say $12.2 million dollars from the sweetened beverage tax will go towards Pre-K funding this year. For each student, a school is given $8,500 per student a year.