SPRINGFIELD, Mo. -- A recent study shows local kids old enough for kindergarten are showing they haven't learned enough ahead of time. Now Springfield city leaders are planning to take on the growing learning problem.
The city's Commission for Children is starting what it calls the "Preschool Initiative." It's an effort to get more kids learning early so they don't fall behind once they hit kindergarten. The group is concerned too many are already behind based on recent numbers and the economy.
According to a study from Missouri State University, 25 percent of kindergarten-aged kids in Springfield were not at a kindergarten learning level in 2006. In 2010, the numbers showed improvement: 20 percent were below the learning curve that year.
City leaders are concerned that, by next year, those numbers will get worse. That's why the committee is meeting now to try to find solutions. The group says it could come down to money.
"It could be more affordability; it could be some type of tax break from the state; it could be more public preschools, more Head Start, more faith-based (preschools). It's going to take a combination of everybody working together to make sure our kids have the opportunities and to still give parents a choice," said Committee for Children Executive Director Denise Bredfeldt.
No decisions have been made on which route to take to try to solve the problem. City leaders say they're just in discussions now. When the committe comes to an agreement, the group likely will make a recommendation to the city.
The meeting started at 8 a.m. Tuesday at the Busch Municipal Building.