Southwest Play School is the first parent-owned and operated preschool in Columbia and has been educating children for almost 50 years. Sharen Garrett started teaching at Southwest 19 years ago. She’s been teaching her whole life, and now plans to retire. Garrett teaches at the co-op weekdays, while parent-volunteers work alongside the children for a set number of days each semester.
“The needs for co-ops have changed," Garrett said. "I just love what I do. I love the children, I love their parents. You know it’d be terrible to go to job every day you didn’t love what you did.”
Public schools could receive state money for preschool programs under a new proposal by a Missouri senator. But budget concerns could diminish its prospects of passage.
Sen. Joseph Keaveny filed two bills Thursday that would fund preschool programs through the state formula that already distributes money for K-12 education. One version would provide state aid for all preschool students; the other would pay only for lower income students.
Republican Senate leaders said Thursday that they like Keaveny's idea but it's unlikely the state can afford it.