Meck Pre-K to remain at current classroom levels in 2024

When universal Pre-K was launched by Mecklenburg County, the county projected up to 5,000 students would be able to be enrolled by now. But the county still has open seats, and the program isn’t expanding as originally projected.

The county discussed the future of Meck Pre-K Thursday during the annual budget retreat.

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When Meck Pre-K launched, commissioners expected 275 classrooms by now. Those classrooms would serve roughly 5,000 children. But next year, the county is planning to keep the same amount of 105 classrooms. They can serve 1,870 students but only 1,796 students are enrolled. The county hasn’t added any classrooms since the pandemic.

The head of the program says Meck Pre-K is keeping current classroom levels because the demand to expand isn’t there. There are also staffing issues. The county hasn’t been able to easily hire teachers for Meck Pre-K. The county is trying to build its workforce by partnering with CPCC and UNC Charlotte.

The county says they want to focus on building a solid program and not just opening up seats. Commissioner Susan Rodriguez-McDowell says she is proud of the state of the program.

“I am on board 100%, 1,000%,” she said. “I think that kids need that advanced preparation so they can start in kindergarten, prepared and ready to go.”

To get more students in Meck Pre-K, the county is looking at where the schools are located, making sure they are in the neighborhoods that need them most.