Preschools struggle to have better programs wanted by parents while keeping costs down

CLEVELAND - In a room of pre-schoolers, being one of the adults in charge, like teacher Candice Davis, means never being far from chaos.

"You see how it was," said Davis after reaching to her class and acting out parts of Jack and the Beanstalk. "If you just come in and not know [what to expect,] you're going to have a rough day."

Candice Davis teaches her preschool class at Lexington Bell Community Center.

Trying to wrangle kids is only part of the battle.

Parents are asking for better programs to send their kids to and the state's "Step Up to Quality" star ranking system drives up costs.

"We don't have that kind of money," said Lexington Bell Community Center Executive Director LuAnne Peters. 

Children get home-cooked meals that they eat with staff during the day at Lexington Bell Community Center.

She said when her facility made changes to earn their 4 out of 5-star rating under "Step Up to Quality," it meant operating at a deficit for three years.

"Most of the time in early childhood, people are running deficits in their early childhood centers because of keeping quality, keeping teachers," said Peters.

A parent picks up her preschooler Thursday.

The ranking is based partially on how much professional development staff goes through, teacher-to-child ratios, and the level of a teacher's education. Everyone like Davis needs either an Associate's Degree or 120 hours of training to get a credential to be a teacher.

Davis has both but says the barrier to be a pre-school teacher wasn't nearly that high when she started 14 years ago.

"You had the pleasure to work with them and the passion," said Davis. "So now it's more paperwork with it."

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