Pre K Dodges Budget Ax

With the adoption of the new state budget, it appears that the controversial volunteer Pre K program being pushed by the governor dodged the budget ax, at least for one more year. The Pre K program which was on the chopping block to be phased out over the next two years, was reinstated to receive full funding for one more year in the new budget. 

The volunteer Pre K program has been under fire ever since the governor's own state wide study came back to show the benefits for the program were almost nonexistent after about two years.

In Loudon County the cost to participate in the volunteer Pre-K program is more than $900,000.00 per year. In addition much needed classroom space has been dedicated to the program displacing older students to trailers. According to the state Department of Education, it costs about $107,000 per classroom to fund a voluntary pre-K program. Loudon County has about 158 children in the pre-K program. At 20 children per classroom. The state only pays 60 percent to 70 percent of that cost with the county picking up the balance.

The Loudon County Board of Education has been debating the benefits of continuing the volunteer Pre-K program given the costs and the failure of the program state wide. Had the state cut their portion of the funding, the board of education would certainly have had to eliminate the program.

The state legislature's actions this year should be a strong signal to local boards of education that the hand writing is on the wall for Pre-K and that sooner than later, the state is going to pull funding from the program as they should.

Foot Note. The annual payment the board needs from it's general fund to go to the building program is almost exactly the board's cost to maintain the Pre-K program.