Issue 9: You can help prepare Dayton for tomorrow

You may have heard the expression “If we fail to plan, then we plan to fail.”

Throughout my career as an organizational leader and a community volunteer, I have certainly found that to be true — preparation is key to success.

Today, Dayton is preparing for and enhancing its future in many ways. I am encouraged by downtown development, by renewed interest in neighborhoods, and by the dramatic increase in private sector investment in the region’s urban core.

But there’s another way we can and should prepare Dayton for tomorrow: we should give our youngest citizens an opportunity to be ready for learning, for achieving and for being productive community members in the years ahead.

If voters approve Issue 9 on the November ballot, all families throughout the city of Dayton will have access to high-quality, affordable pre-school for 4-year-olds. Attending a high-quality pre-school makes a big difference in whether children are ready to learn and achieve.

There are 1,900 4-year-olds in Dayton. Three out of four do not begin kindergarten ready to learn. Without some extra help, they just won’t be prepared. They will start school already behind.

I believe, and I hope you will agree, that all children deserve a chance to be the best they can be — for themselves, for their families, in their future careers, and for the community. Building a foundation for success begins very early in life, and we can make a difference by voting to approve Issue 9.

How will the pre-school program work? Tuition assistance will be available when children attend a state-rated program in Montgomery County. A tiered system based on family income, household size, and the quality rating of the pre-school will determine the amount of the assistance, which will be awarded to participating pre-schools.

To ensure accountability, pre-schools receiving public funds will have independent audits and evaluations (quality assistance will be provided by the Preschool Promise organization). The program will be run by a non-profit board of community and business leaders, parents, and educators.

We are now at a point of choice in Dayton where we can take steps to build upon the economic and civic resurgence happening here. Or, we can simply “fail to plan” and allow our community to struggle in the decades ahead. Local employers are already experiencing shortages of qualified workers. Future shortages would not bode well for the region’s economy and Dayton’s future.

If approved, Issue 9 will raise Dayton’s earned income tax by ¼ percent for a period of eight years (for someone earning $35,000 yearly, that’s an increase of just $1.60 per week). The increase won’t affect Social Security, pensions or retirement income.

In addition to supporting high-quality pre-school in Dayton, Issue 9 will raise funds for essential City services, including neighborhood streets and park maintenance, police and fire protection, and more frequent mowing of vacant lots. All of these add up to supporting an environment where families and businesses can thrive.

I hope you will join me in voting to approve Issue 9 on the November 8 general election ballot. Your vote matters to our children and Dayton’s future.

Colleen Ryan is a Dayton resident, a board member of Learn to Earn, and president of Vectren Energy Delivery of Ohio.

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