OAKLAND, Calif. - Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf on Wednesday rolled out the city's universal preschool initiative – one of her last acts before leaving office in less than two weeks.
Voters approved the universal preschool plan known as Measure AA back in 2018 but after a three-year legal battle and some bureaucratic red tape, the plan is finally ready to launch.
"Oakland's children are our promise, and what we are doing today, is ensuring that the next generation of children get off to the strongest start," Schaaf said at a morning news conference at her office in city hall.
Oakland voters passed Measure AA – a property tax that goes to education services for kids in 2018.
The measure was in legal limbo after a group of property owners sued to stop it but the city this year won its case earlier this year, and the money can now begin flowing.
"The voters of Oakland were willing to dig into their own pockets to invest in the future of this community," Schaaf said.
Child development experts say early access to preschool is crucial for a child's academic success later in life and in Oakland 20% of residents live below the poverty line
"Currently there’s a little over 6,000 low income children who are three and 4-year-olds who will gain access," said Jennifer Caban, the Children's Initiative accountability officer with the city.
The measure will provide $30 million in annual revenue for preschool and college prep service for high schoolers and will last for 30 years. It's funding will be controlled by a volunteer oversight commission.
"I hope that every child out there knows that your entire city leadership is united in believing in your brilliance in making sure your have every opportunity every one of your audacious dreams can be realized," Schaaf said.
Evan Sernoffsky is an investigative reporter for KTVU. Email Evan at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter @EvanSernoffsky.