Voters turn down mayor's early childhood education sales tax

Bill Grady
April 03, 2019 - 5:30 am

KMBC Channel 9 News

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Kansas City voters rejected a pre-kindergarten education plan that would have been funded by a new 3/8-cent sales tax.

The margin was almost two to one. 

The plan was heavily promoted by Mayor Sly James, who admitted he was frustrated with the outcome. He told supporters at a watch party that he felt like the city had let its children down.

"We now continue to have children who are not getting the early childhood education that they need to equal out the things that they have not had in their lives before they enter kindergarten, so that they will enter the year of kindergarten two years behind their peers," James said.

James has often quoted a statistic that a third of Kansas City's children lack opportunities early childhood education. The city's school districts came out against the sales tax. Some other organizations, including the Urban League. 

"I kept hearing about plans that they had, I'd like to hear what those plans are," James said. "Maybe now they'll reveal them."

The proposed would have raised about $30 million over ten years. 

Research has shown youngsters with solid pre-k schooling are much more likely to pursue higher education and become productive citizens, James said. The Kansas City plan was modeled after programs in Denver and San Antonio.

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