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Preschool Promise plan could save big dollars, study finds

Tana Weingartner

A University of Cincinnati study suggests Cincinnati could save $48 million if its Preschool Promise plan is successful.

The UC Economics Center report finds the economic benefit per three-year-old class could be as large as $69.1 million if all students enrolled in the plan. However, it says similar programs in other cities usually have about 70 percent participation - leading to the $48.4 million estimate.

The Preschool Promise aims to make sure all three-year old's get two years of quality preschool before kindergarten.

When local business, school and city officials announced the program last spring, they estimated it would cost $6 - 9 million dollars per year.

From the UC study:

Public Savings and Benefits from Quality Preschool

Average savings per student

Reductions in school system expenditures. 

  • Reduced need for special education and grade retention 


Reduction in teacher costs.

  • Reduced costs of hiring and retaining teachers, substitute teachers, spending on school security, and state spending on improving achievement


Increase in parental taxes.

  • Freeing up time for parents to enter the labor market, resulting in increased sales and income tax revenues


Reduced crime and criminal justice costs.

  • Substantially reduced criminal activity, thus reducing costs on the criminal justice system


Reduced health care and social service costs.

  • Quality preschool programs have been shown to provide public gains associated with health screening, immunization, and nutrition, which may be delivered directly through the program or as a result of higher family incomes


Increase in student taxes (income and sales) over a 47 year work life


The total average annual  benefits per enrollee


The Economics Center will conduct a second phase which will evaluate the costs of providing universal, quality preschool. Completion of this phase of the study will yield a full cost/benefit analysis of the Cincinnati Preschool Promise.

Tana Weingartner earned a bachelor's degree in communication from the University of Cincinnati and a master's degree in mass communication from Miami University. Prior to joining Cincinnati Public Radio, she served as news and public affairs producer with WMUB-FM. Ms. Weingartner has earned numerous awards for her reporting, including several Best Reporter awards from the Associated Press and the Ohio Society of Professional Journalists, and a regional Murrow Award. She enjoys snow skiing, soccer and dogs.