Report shows preschool funding is down

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LA CROSSE, Wis. (WEAU) -- Last school year was the worst in a decade for preschool funding.

A report released Monday from the National Institute for Early Education Research shows state spending per student was about $3,800.

That’s down more than $1,100 from 10 years earlier.

Teachers said preschool is important for little ones, because it provides social interaction and develops motor skills.

“If we offer it, we need to offer a high quality program to get these kids excited about school. This is there first time at school, so they really need to fall in love with coming to school each day,” said Hintgen Elementary Preschool Teacher Kylie Burns.

The report shows state funding for preschool decreased by more than half a billion dollars.

However, the La Crosse School District said it hasn’t been hit too hard.

“Our increases haven’t been very substantial over the last few years, and we’re concerned about what the increase might or might not be this year with the state budget, but we’ve been able to avoid those cuts that you see nationally in the state of Wisconsin,” said Hintgen Elementary Principal & Preschool Supervisor Mark White.

The report shows Wisconsin spent about $5,100 per student in 2002.

However, that number dropped to about $3,200 per student 10 years later.

Sixty-one percent of Wisconsin’s four-year-olds were in preschool in 2012.

That’s up 42% from 2002, and about 90% of school districts in Wisconsin have four-year-old preschool.

“We were on of the first districts in the state in La Crosse to come up with a community servicing model of pre-k that’s used around the state now. So we’re very proud of our position in the state, and what we’ve done with our program,” said White.

Burns said the skills you learn in preschool can help you as an adult.

“You are going to need to share from 4-k to forever, right?” said Burns.

During his State of the Union speech, President Obama proposed giving states $75 billion in matching funds to improve availability for high quality preschool programs in the next 10 years.

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