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We are writing today as business, education and community leaders in Racine County to express our support for Senate Bill 663/Assembly Bill 797, authored by Senator Van Wanggaard and Representative Jessie Rodriguez, to create a state pilot program to help fund full-day 4-year-old kindergarten (4K) programs in our community.

Based on a combination of national research, local data, and recommendations from Speaker Robin Vos’ Urban Education Task Force, we are certain that expanding access to full-day 4K would greatly improve early literacy skills, which are essential building blocks for long-term academic and workforce success.

High quality full-day 4K may be the most effective way to prepare children, particularly those from more difficult backgrounds, for school and beyond. In addition to improving outcomes for students and families, full-day 4K would save money in a variety of ways, including lowering special education costs.

Providing full-day 4K to as many children as possible is a critical step to ensuring that all children are prepared to succeed. As we ready Racine County for an influx of high tech jobs, we recognize the importance of worker training for the near term. We must also recognize the need for strong early childhood education in Racine County to ensure our children are prepared for these types of jobs in the future.

We thank Senator Wanggaard and Representative Rodriguez for their leadership on the proposal, and we hope the legislature will move swiftly on this initiative for the good of Racine County.

Signed by Jeff Neubauer, executive director of Higher Expectations For Racine County, and the following members of the Higher Expectations Leadership Table:

Dr. Bryan Albrecht, Gateway Technical College president; Dr. Lolli Haws, Racine Unified School District superintendent; John Batten, Twin Disc president and CEO; Ann Lee, Johnson Financial senior VP of strategic performance; Thomas A. Burke, Modine Manufacturing president and CEO; Cory Mason, City of Racine mayor; Jonathan Delagrave, Racine County Executive; Matt J. Montemurro, Racine Area Manufacturers and Commerce president; Dr. Deborah Ford, University of Wisconsin-Parkside chancellor; Rodney Prunty, United Way of Racine County president and CPO; Brian French, North America, CNH Industrial North America VP, HR; Chad Severson, InSinkErator president;Jackie Hallberg, Goodwill Industries of Southeastern Wisconsin president and CEO; and Dr. John Swallow, Carthage College president.

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