Selected SLC Research


Policy Analysis | June 1, 2010

What are the enrollment and state expenditures for preschool in the South?

In the 2008-2009 school year, 1.2 million children were enrolled in state-funded pre-kindergarten programs in the 38 states that fund preschool.Total state spending nationally on preschool was in excess of $5 billion, with an average per pupil state expenditure of $4,143.The South leads the nation in preschool enrollment, with more than half (599,048 out of 1,046,752) of all 4-year-olds enrolled in state-funded preschool served by programs in the 15-state region.Unsurprisingly, the region also spends more on preschool than any other region, with state expenditures of $2.3 billion in 2008-2009, although the region's average per-pupil expenditure of $3,912 is below the national average of $4,143.When ranked by the percentage of 4-year-olds served by some preschool program (state Pre-K, special education and Head Start), the South has seven of the top ten states (Oklahoma, Florida, Georgia, West Virginia, Texas, Arkansas, and South Carolina).Oklahoma continues to serve the largest percentage of 4-year-olds at 71 percent, followed closely by Florida at 67 percent and then Georgia with 53 percent. These three states, along with Vermont (53 percent) and West Virginia (51 percent) serve more than half of their 4-year-olds in state pre-K. Only one state in the region, Mississippi, does not have a state-funded preschool program. The table below provides the percentage and number of four-year-olds enrolled and total state expenditures for the South.

Preschool Enrollment and Expenditures in the SLC States

(Click header to sort each column)

STATE PERCENT OF 4-YEAR-OLDS ENROLLED IN STATE PRE-KINDERGARTEN (2008-2009) NUMBER OF 4-YEAR-OLDS ENROLLED IN STATE PRE-KINDERGARTEN (2008-2009) STATE $ PER CHILD ENROLLED IN PRE-K TOTAL STATE PRESCHOOL SPENDING IN 2008-2009
Alabama 5.50% 3,384 $5,134 $17,374,590
Arkansas 43.70% 17,018 $5,421 $111,000,000
Florida 66.70% 147,762 $2,448 $361,764,938
Georgia 53.40% 78,310 $4,234 $331,542,255
Kentucky 28.30% 15,842 $3,497 $75,127,700
Louisiana 31.70% 19,720 $5,301 $104,539,103
Mississippi -- -- $0 $0
Missouri 3.90% 3,070 $2,880 $13,156,901
North Carolina 25.00% 31,485 $5,414 $170,471,908
Oklahoma 71.00% 36,042 $4,084 $147,185,345
South Carolina 38.10% 22,410 $1,633 $40,596,640
Tennessee 21.60% 17,568 $4,520 $83,000,000
Texas 45.40% 181,008 $3,790 $760,059,287
Virginia 14.10% 14,585 $4,023 $58,679,197
West Virginia 50.60% 10,844 $5,264 $69,147,853
Regional 599,048 $3,912 $2,343,645,717
United States 1,046,752 $4,143 $5,037,696,733

Source:
W. Steven Barnett, Ph.D., Dale J. Epstein, Ph.D., Allison H. Friedman, Ed.M., Rachel A. Sansanelli, M.A., and Jason T. Hustedt, Ph.D., The State of Preschool 2009, The National Institute for Early Education Research, Newark, New Jersey, May 2010.