Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Schools Say Pre-K Plan Leaves Them at a Loss; Districts Would Have to Make Up Difference or Deal with Shorter Day

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Schools Say Pre-K Plan Leaves Them at a Loss; Districts Would Have to Make Up Difference or Deal with Shorter Day

Article excerpt

Byline: TERESA STEPZINSKI

BRUNSWICK - Georgia's pre-kindergarten students likely won't have meals or a rest period under the shortened school day that Gov. Nathan Deal proposed to cut state funding for the program.

Deal recommends reducing pre-kindergarten, serving about 84,000 children free, to a half-day. Children would spend four hours a day in the program instead of 6 1/2. It is an effort to offset an estimated $320 million reduction in state lottery revenue, which funds Georgia's pre-kindergarten and HOPE scholarship programs.

The measure, which is racing through the legislature, would clear the way for about 5,000 more children to participate. That is good news for some of the estimated 10,000 youngsters on the program's waiting list.

The bad news, Southeast Georgia educators say, is local school districts that want to keep the program at a full day will have to use local revenue to pay for it, which would be costly.

Because local districts will get state funding only for a half-day program, they would have to use local money to make up the difference to continue it as a 6 1/2-hour-a-day program. State education law does not even require systems to offer pre-kindergarten programs.

About 470 are enrolled in Glynn County's version called Families and Children's Educational Services, or FACES. Another 100 preschoolers are on its waiting list, school officials said.

Glynn and school systems statewide must decide whether to cut pre-kindergarten to a half-day, which will significantly impact the students, teachers and paraprofessionals.

"It's basically going to create a shortfall that is going to have to be picked up by the local school systems if you keep the full-day program," Glynn County school Superintendent Howard Mann said Wednesday, the day after Deal announced his plan.

"If we continue it at a full day, we'll have to come up with about $750,000," Mann said in a preliminary estimate.

That money would have to come out of the school district's general fund, which would be a budget decision for county School Board members, he said.

"About the only way you can meet that kind of a need is to reduce staff, reduce programs or raise the [property tax] rate," Mann said.

The half-day sessions also will shortchange the children on instruction time, and likely eliminate meals and rest periods. In addition, pre-kindergarten teachers will lose planning time, FACES Principal Stephanie Thompson said.

Glynn's pre-kindergartners receive breakfast, lunch and a snack daily, she said.

"The two mealtimes, breakfast and lunch, currently provided in the pre-K day are used as instructional times for the children," Thompson said.

"In addition to teachers modeling table manners, there is a wealth of language experiences shared. Due to working parents' busy schedules, family mealtimes are often lost at home or interrupted by other media," Thompson said. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.