Each year, it seems, there’s some new wrinkle to Georgia’s lottery-funded prekindergarten program.
Last year, with legislative approval, Gov. Nathan Deal slashed the pre-k year by 20 days, to 160, but added 10,000 slots for pupils. This year, he added back 10 of those days and eliminated 2,000 slots.
As Donnie Fetter’s story in Sunday’s News-Times notes, Columbia County’s pre-k program has been a roller-coaster as a result. Veteran teachers last year bailed out to escape the 20-day pay cut, and new teacherswho replaced them now also are hoping to move up, making retention of experienced teachers an ongoing challenge.
School officials won’t like to hear it (again), but we suggest instead they can worry less about replacing those teachers by simply getting out of the pre-k business altogether.
Let’s face it: The system is planning to cut some five dozen paraprofessionals from classrooms next year, in part because those positions aren’t state-mandated and thus are locally funded.
Likewise, the county is not required to provide pre-k. While it does receive some state funding, the county provides transportation for the 220 pupils, along with 10 classrooms in about half the county’s elementary schools.
Any money spent on pre-k would be better used keeping some of those parapros in grades where it really counts, and let private daycares handle the prekindergartners.