Governor revamps pre-K funding plans

1:36 PM, Mar 7, 2011   |    comments
New slots will open in Pre-K.
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ATLANTA -- Cuts are still coming to Georgia's popular pre-kindergarten program, but Governor Nathan Deal wants to ease the pain.

After getting pushback from parents and educators, Gov. Deal announced revisions to his plan on Monday. It would keep a full school day, but cut the school year from 180 days to 160 days.

RELATED: Complete HOPE Coverage

Gov. Deal's original proposal to cut pre-K from 6.5 hours to 4 hours a day was met by outcries from pre-K teachers, parents and advocates.

"That was the most contentious issue for people," Deal said. "We heard from parents and providers."

"A 4-hour day does not work for working families," said Sheltering Arms CEO Elaine Praeger. "No other state has done this. Everybody else is trying to increase the hours of pre-K and not decrease the hours of pre-K."

Deal's new plan would expand class sizes by two students in each classroom, from 20 to 22, and add 2,000 slots to the pre-K program, which has a 10,000 student waiting list. Deal's original plan added 5,000 slots.

The governor's proposal aims to save the state $54 million a year.

Like the HOPE scholarship, the pre-K program is funded with lottery revenues; both programs face a big budget shortfall.

Here are more elements of Gov. Deal's new plan:

  • Providers will receive 94 percent of the operating funds they currently receive.
  • Pre-K teachers will receive 90 percent of their current salaries. (The original half-day proposal included a 30 percent reduction.)

Gov. Deal was flanked by Democratic leaders for Monday's announcement. He said the new plan was the result of "bipartisan negotiations."

Georgia is one of only four states that offer universal pre-K.

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