Columbus Gets State Help To Expand Early Learning

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Columbus Mayor Michael Coleman (podium) and Governor John Kasich look on as 4 year old waves to crowd at Champion Learning Center. The democratic mayor and republican governor announced joint funding of early learning program
Columbus Mayor Michael Coleman (podium) and Governor John Kasich look on as 4 year old waves to crowd at Champion Learning Center. The democratic mayor and republican governor announced joint funding of early learning program

Columbus will soon get financial help from the state to expand its early learning program. The new funds will be used to get more of the city’s four year-olds into pre-Kindergarten programs.

Columbus is the first city in Ohio to align funding for its early start program with a similar state effort. Mayor Michael Coleman announced the program at a Near East Side learning center.

“Through this partnership we’ll have funding available for Pre-K for 160 additional low-income four year olds in the city of Columbus.”

Combined city and state government will spend more than $4-million to expand access to pre-K classrooms. Department of Job and Family Services Director, Cynthia Dungey, says the program benefits both 4 year olds and their parents.

“We no longer want to have a family who has to make a choice between taking a job or accepting food stamps. We don’t want the decision for a young mother to be that I cannot go to work because my child care benefit is going to be eliminated,” says Dungey.

Columbus City Council will consider additional city funds for the program when it meets on Monday. Mayor Coleman, a democrat, was joined by Republican Governor John Kasich at the Champion Early Learning Center to announce the pre-K expansion. It’s not the first time the two have appeared together, but it comes just three and half months before the November election. Both anticipated questions about why an incumbent republican governor running for re-election would appear with the democratic mayor of Ohio’s largest city. Kasich says he was “thrilled” to help spotlight the education partnership.

“How would we not agree to work with the Mayor and do this stuff. I mean it would be ridiculous to let politics or any non-sense get in the way of this. So, I’m thrilled with this,” says Kasich.

Mayor Coleman has endorsed Kasich’s opponent, Ed Fitzgerald. Coleman says he sought the financial help from the state to to allow more pre-schoolers into the program.

“Kids don’t care what party you belong to. Kids don’t care whether you are a “D” or and “R”. says Coleman.

Coleman says the city’s early learning program will need continued funding in coming years and he says he’ll again ask for state help.

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