Sales tax initiative would help fund free pre-K for Kansas City kids

KANSAS CITY, Mo. --- More money for pre-kindergarten. Kansas City Mayor Sly James wants kids to start school sooner – and so Tuesday afternoon he plans to release details of his new Pre-K for KC Campaign.

Research shows 90 percent of a child’s brain develops before they turn six years old, so the sooner they begin reading and writing, the more success they will have later in life.

Kansas City officials say kids in pre-K also have a better chance of graduating from high school and landing jobs with higher annual salaries.

But many low-income families don’t have access to pre-K because it’s too expensive.

That lack of education puts their kids at a disadvantage when they go to kindergarten.

According to the Greater Kansas City Chamber of Commerce, only 35percent of all four-year-olds in Kansas City are enrolled in pre-K. While these kids learn how to read and do simple math, their peers are falling behind.

Research shows those who don’t go to pre-K will be more likely to get in trouble with the law, get addicted to drugs or drop out of school later in life.

Mayor Sly James is expected to announce his support for a 3/8th cent sales tax on the November ballot. The ballot initiative would bring in around $30 million a year. That money would go to local schools to offer pre-K classes so local families could send their kids free of charge.

Getting residents to support a tax hike might be a challenge, as the sales tax in Kansas City is already between 9 and 10 percent.