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Mecklenburg to study expanding early-childhood education

Staff reports

Susan Kincaid leads pre-school activities at the Forest Hill Church/YMCA facility in Ballantyne in this file photo.
Susan Kincaid leads pre-school activities at the Forest Hill Church/YMCA facility in Ballantyne in this file photo. jwillhelm@charlotteobserver.com

The Charlotte Executive Leadership Council, formed last year by some of the city’s top executives, will pay for a $500,000 study of expanding access to early childhood education to more children in Mecklenburg County.

The two-phased study, announced Thursday, will include an initial feasibility study followed by an implementation design study.

"Research has proven that high-quality early childhood education is a primary factor in bringing identifiable, lasting benefits and substantial economic returns for families and communities," said Trevor Fuller, the Mecklenburg commissioners’ chair who advocated for expanded pre-kindergarten education earlier this year.

"A commitment of this magnitude that begins the process toward universal pre-K can provide lifelong benefits where the return on investment may be calculated many times over."

New York City, Denver, San Antonio, Seattle and Salt Lake City are among cities that have launched early childhood education programs.

The leadership council will collaborate with Mecklenburg County and its Economic Opportunity Task Force on the independent research study, which the county will oversee.

"Charlotte-Mecklenburg’s Opportunity Task Force research has focused on a number of issues related to economic advancement for families within our community, including the importance of early childhood education," said Duke Energy chairman and CEO Lynn Good, who chairs the leadership council. "The CELC is pleased to be a part of this important initiative to explore the expansion of this program."  

The mission of the CELC is "to advocate for solutions that improve Charlotte’s economic vitality and quality of life," according to its charter. The Foundation for the Carolinas provides administrative and program support.

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