Deal re-thinks Pre-K slashing - WALB.com, South Georgia News, Weather, Sports

Deal re-thinks Pre-K slashing

By Jennifer Emert - bio | email

Lee County, GA (WALB) -   An outcry from parents and teachers may have stopped deep cuts in Georgia's Pre-K program. Governor Nathan Deal backed away from his plan to cut class hours in half, and offered a compromise that would reduce the number of days in the pre-k school year by 20.

Teachers and Administrators say it's at least a start to saving a program viewed as invaluable.

This new proposal allows Pre-K teachers to receive 90% of their current salaries, the original proposal included a 30% reduction, something many said was going to cause them to look for other jobs.

There's a constant buzz in the hallways at Lee County's Pre-school, but instead of the students  it was teachers talking about the Governor's proposal to keep full-day Pre-K.

"News got around quick, around here," said Pre-K Teacher Kim Pearce. Teachers admit previous proposed cuts that would have taken classes down to just half a day were going to be hard for teachers to swallow.

"A lot of us were thinking about having to move to the other schools and some of us were going to stay but we were going to have to ado a lot of cutbacks at home. and detrimental to students." 

"If you start Kindergarten behind, it's very difficult to ever catch up,
said Lee County's Pre-K administrator Jan Duke.

Duke has been asked to be part of a focus group in Atlanta later this week with the Pre-K Commissioner. She plans to ask for more flexibility for schools.

"We'd like to ask for flexibility to see if there's a way to make it work best for our system,"
 Duke said.

If they can find the money they want to be able to offer parents a complete 180 days, not the 160 proposed. She also thinks increasing class sizes to 22 will help cut down the waiting list.

"That could help to serve more students so that they are able to have a Pre-school experience." Because students with a Pre-K experience they say, are more well rounded and know more academically and socially, a big benefit going into Kindergarten.

 School officials say with registration ongoing for schools or coming up later this months its made it difficult on what to tell parents.

These cut backs will still allow the state to cut $54 million while adding an additional 10,000 slots to the Pre-K program.

 

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