As the school board budget process continues, some headway is being made. Administrators have suggested some cuts that could produce some savings. Unfortunately, those savings will be eliminated by the proposed raises. But the work continues.
One issue budget members continue to debate is the cost of the Volunteer Pre-K program. For the first time, seems other board members are taking a closer look at the need and effectiveness of Pre-K. Members of the budget committee are looking to reduce the cost of the program so at least, less or no local funding would be needed to maintain the questionable program.
Currently, the state pays nearly eight hundred thousand dollars into the Pre-K program and the county adds about another hundred and thirty thousand dollars. This for around 160 Pre-K students. The state mandates that for Pre-K, the maximum adult/student ratio is 1 to 10. One of the adults must be a certified teacher. The other can be an assistant. Loudon County has chosen to add an additional assistant to each class. This is why so much local money is needed to fund the program.
While I continue to maintain the elimination of the entire program, administrators have proposed reducing some of the extra assistants to try to reduce the amount of local money needed to fund Pre-K. But for some, even this is too much of a cut. At least one Pre-K teacher has addressed the board claiming that eliminating the extra assistant would be detrimental to the Pre-K students. Her explanation for the need for two assistants was among others, the need for the teacher to have time to plan their curriculum and for potty issues.
According to the State Of Tennessee, "Preschool in Tennessee Frequently Asked Questions", being potty trained is not a requirement for eligibility into the Volunteer Pre-K program.
I'm sorry, but is it just me or is there something wrong with government run public education being responsible potty training? I have no idea how many if any un-potty trained students we have in Loudon County but just the thought of spending tax dollars, especially local tax dollars, for a program labeled as public education that mandates diaper changing is just wrong.
I can only assume those who continue to make the case for the Volunteer Pre-K, that the sooner the government can get hold of our children the better, would probably argue that infants should be taken straight from the hospital after birth into the public school system.
Cradle to grave government.