The county should spend $10 million worth of sales tax revenue in the next two fiscal years to provide subsidized child care through a proposed Early Learning and Care Trust Fund, according to a recommendation by County Manager John Maltbie coming before the supervisors Tuesday.
Maltbie also backs funding more than $530,000 in the next two years to redesign and expand library summer reading programs at the county’s 32 public facilities and bookmobile. The plan is to increase participating students from an expected 19,000 this year to 48,000 by 2015.
A third recommendation coming before the Board of Supervisors at Tuesday’s meeting calls for $3.5 million to create a county fire vehicle replacement fund. A 35-year-old water tanker and two fire engines older than 20 years old need immediate replacement and others will be evaluated later this year. Two million dollars will be contributed initially for the three vehicles plus a $1.5 million “placeholder” amount to continue the replacement process. That figure will be adjusted with the actual purchase price, likely before the September budget hearings.
The proposals are among the latest batch of ideas up for discussion and tentative allocation of the Measure A half-cent sales tax revenue approved by voters in November. The child care proposal has two contingencies — other community resources must mach the funds and, secondly, the Board of Supervisors must adopt a comprehensive expenditure and program plan recommended by the county Office of Education.
The investment would be one of prevention to avoid more costly remediation down the road. Although the county received nearly $12 million in First 5 funding and CalWorks subsidies and spent $4.7 million on its Pre to 3 program, more than 3,300 local children who qualify for subsidized preschool don’t have a space to accommodate them, according to Maltbie’s summary to the board.
As a result, less than 60 percent of third graders are proficient readers and some minority groups demonstrate even less ability. The eventual goal is universal quality preschool for all San Mateo County 3- and 4-year-olds but the Peninsula Partnership Leadership Council — a group of more than 50 leaders from government, education, philanthropy and business — is starting its focus on school districts where proficiency is at or below the county average. These include Bayshore, Brisbane, Cabrillo, Jefferson Elementary, La Honda-Pescadero, Pacifica, Ravenswood, Redwood City, San Bruno Park, San Mateo-Foster City and South San Francisco. Funding these districts alone are estimated at $40 million annually.
If approved, the recommendations will join $8.77 million already tentatively allocated in fiscal year 2013-2014 and $3.4 million allocated in fiscal year 2014-2015. Those programs include library capital needs, a coastside mobile health van, homeless programs and reestablishing a stand-alone parks department.
The Board of Supervisors meets 9 a.m. Tuesday, June 18 in Board Chambers, 400 County Center, Redwood City.
(650) 344-5200 ext. 102