BRIDGEPORT - Bridgeport officials announced Wednesday that they're preparing to launch free pre-K classes to every 4-year-old in the city.

The state has offered school districts millions of dollars to try the idea, but most have turned the money down. They say it leaves them to cover too much of the costs themselves.

Bridgeport Mayor Bill Finch, however, says that the program will help struggling students in the city catch up with their peers in more affluent suburban school districts.

The pre-K programs aim to be more than just day care centers, but "active curriculums," according to Merle Berke-Schlessel of Costal Fairfield Co. United Way.

About 90 percent of children in the Park City are already enrolled in some form of pre-K, but organizers say it often amounts to just "baby-sitting."

Bridgeport Schools interim Superintendent Fran Rabinowitz calls the initiative a step in the right direction.