Columbia County cuts pre-K program in half

  • Follow Education

The number of prekindergarten classes offered in the Columbia County school system will be cut in half starting next school year.

The system currently receives about $1.9 million in state lottery funds to operate 20 pre-K classes for 400 pupils. The school board voted Tuesday to reduce those classes to just 10 for 220 pupils.

Officials were not immediately sure how much Georgia Lottery grant money they will lose because of the cuts.

Elementary schools keeping pre-K are: North Columbia, North Harlem, Euchee Creek, Cedar Ridge, South Columbia, Grovetown, Brookwood and Baker Place. North Harlem and Grovetown will each have two pre-K programs. Those schools were chosen based on need and the lack of day cares in those areas, said Michele Sherman, the district's director of elementary learning.

School officials decided last month to cancel a drawing for pre-K slots after several changes to the program by Gov. Nathan Deal, including eliminating funding for 20 days of instruction and freezing pre-K teacher salaries.

Even with adding 10,000 pre-K slots across the state, Deal's plan saves about $54 million a year, according to the Georgia Budget and Policy Institute.

Sherman said current pre-K teachers likely will be moved into higher elementary grades, where their education level and experience will still count toward their pay. Officials hope to hire new pre-K teachers willing to work at a fixed rate.

Though lottery revenues topped $880 million last year, they fell far short of the more than $1 billion spent on the HOPE scholarships and pre-K programs they fund.

In other business Tuesday, the board voted to wait until at least the 2012-13 school year before reverting from an "integrated" math curriculum to "discrete" math. Officials said there still are too many unknowns regarding a switch back to a more traditional method of instruction, and they want an additional year to better understand the curriculum and train teachers.

Integrated math was introduced to Georgia about five years ago and combines multiple disciplines -- algebra, geometry and calculus -- throughout its sequence. The Richmond County school system has decided to stick with integrated math indefinitely.

Also at the meeting Tuesday, the school board hired a new principal for Greenbrier High School.

Riverside Middle Principal Chris Segraves will replace Margie Hamilton, who submitted a letter of resignation last month.

Hamilton's decision came six months after 14 Greenbrier High teachers accused her of bullying and creating an atmosphere of "constant fear that permeates throughout the staff" in a letter to her, Superintendent Charles Nagle and school board Chairwoman Regina Buccafusco.

It is unclear whether the rift was a factor in Hamilton's decision to resign. Nagle said in March that she chose to leave for "personal reasons."

Comments (37) Add comment
ADVISORY: Users are solely responsible for opinions they post here and for following agreed-upon rules of civility. Posts and comments do not reflect the views of this site. Posts and comments are automatically checked for inappropriate language, but readers might find some comments offensive or inaccurate. If you believe a comment violates our rules, click the "Flag as offensive" link below the comment.
Riverman1
106987
Points
Riverman1 04/26/11 - 09:40 pm
0
0
The Evans-Martinez area is

The Evans-Martinez area is losing all its pre-K programs? I thought those would be the last ones to go. It appears the rural areas are keeping theirs. Is there a reason for that?

Administrators are celebrating with the less work they will have in the schools that lost the program. Those in the schools keeping pre-K are lamenting the extra work. Columbia County parents (and voters) in the districts that lost the programs are not going to be happy.

Chillen
17
Points
Chillen 04/26/11 - 09:56 pm
0
0
Yes, there is definitely a

Yes, there is definitely a bit of wealth redistribution going on with this list.

I say cut them all. Pre-K is just babysitting. But, if you are keeping some, you should not favor the generally lower income & rural areas.

Please, don't be so obvious. The "poor" & "disadvantaged" already have tons of govt programs for them. Now this?!

((Yes, yes, I know not EVERYONE in those districts is poor but compare them to Lakeside or Greenbrier and you'll get the drift.))

Patty-P
3521
Points
Patty-P 04/26/11 - 10:38 pm
0
0
Riverman...the rural areas

Riverman...the rural areas are keeping theirs for just that reason...because of the location. A rural area is more isolated, hence the lack of adequate daycare facilities. At least it is saving money.

mrsmcghee
0
Points
mrsmcghee 04/26/11 - 10:47 pm
0
0
Disgusting. At least be fair

Disgusting. At least be fair about it. If they feel cutting some schools was the only option then why not cut some from each area, not just the Martinez/Evans area. Because as Chillen pointed out that some people in the Harlem/Grovetown area aren't poor not everyone in Martinez/Evans is well off. And why not cut some school programs but include the children in neighboring schools that kept the program's lottery? Still give every child the opportunity to be chosen AND cut the schools from 20 to 10.

Riverman1
106987
Points
Riverman1 04/26/11 - 10:56 pm
0
0
Patty-P, right. I see where

Patty-P, right. I see where Sherman said that although, as Chillen said, it seems we are taking it on ourselves to continue wealth redistribution. All pay, but only certain socio-economic groups get the benefits.

But I'm even much more cynical than believing this is only about helping the poorer areas. None of the schools wanted the program because it's more work. The administrators in those schools who won by having the pre-K programs stopped apparently are better able to get their way.

shannonking1980
5
Points
shannonking1980 04/26/11 - 11:08 pm
0
0
Chillen, Have you had a child

Chillen, Have you had a child in the Pre-K program? Have you visited a class? It is definetly not glorified babysitting. It is a quality education program that benefits our community by giving these children a head start on the education and allows them to learn the materials that are required when they begin Kindergarten. It is an amazing program and helps the children social and educational development. Kindergarten is now what 1st and 2nd grade used to be. It is learning shapes, numbers, math abc's etc. and anytime we can help boost our children's education is important for our soceity as a whole. These Pre Kers will be supporting our soceity in 14 years and I want them to have the best start possible.

Patty-P
3521
Points
Patty-P 04/26/11 - 11:19 pm
0
0
Riverman...I can see where

Riverman...I can see where everyone thinks it is wealth redistribution. But even if they took the pre-K program from the so-called 'poorer' areas, please realize that they can pull funding from somewhere else to fund daycare for these 4 year olds. (for parents who can't afford the full cost of childcare). It's really just moving money from one place to the next.

Riverman1
106987
Points
Riverman1 04/26/11 - 11:24 pm
0
0
Patty-P, good point. It would

Patty-P, good point. It would just be nice if all the schools could have it.

Asitisinaug
4
Points
Asitisinaug 04/27/11 - 01:19 am
0
0
Those schools were chosen

Those schools were chosen based on need and the lack of day cares in those areas, said Michele Sherman, the district's director of elementary learning.......FINALLY, somone within the government admitting that pre-k is simply a government funded day care program.

All non-essential government programs should be de-funded and this is one of them. If we are going to use tax payers dollars to help provide daycare service for poor parents, it should only be for working parents with proof of employment, etc.

colcores
22
Points
colcores 04/27/11 - 05:56 am
0
0
If it can't be offered to all

If it can't be offered to all 4 year olds in the county, then it should be eliminated all together.

augusta citizen
10686
Points
augusta citizen 04/27/11 - 07:06 am
0
0
Austerity measures are never

Austerity measures are never popular, but they should have cut some from each area. If things don't improve they'll have to continue to cut more, but they really need to spread their cuts geographically.

beenaroundtheblock
2
Points
beenaroundtheblock 04/27/11 - 08:11 am
0
0
If Columbia County can afford

If Columbia County can afford $4,000,000.00 for a new athletic complex....why can't it fund something pertaining to academics which is what schools are about....RIGHT????? One has to wonder!

WW1949
19
Points
WW1949 04/27/11 - 08:36 am
0
0
beenround, while I do not

beenround, while I do not live in Columbia County. $4000000.00 for the atyhletic complex is something everyone in the county can use. Not just people with small children.

Mr. Peanut
0
Points
Mr. Peanut 04/27/11 - 08:39 am
0
0
I want the money I spend on

I want the money I spend on the lottery back! I know times are tough I live in Columbia County and its all I can do to keep a roof over my families head and food on the table. Does anyone know where I can see exactly where & how they are spending our money? Wonder how many people that abuse (not the people that "truly" need it) the welfare program that live in Martinez/Evans will be moving to one of those school districts???

beenaroundtheblock
2
Points
beenaroundtheblock 04/27/11 - 08:58 am
0
0
ww1949-I know that everyone

ww1949-I know that everyone can use the athletic complex...I doubt if everyone will considering the location but schools are about ACADEMICS first and athletics second is the point....

iLove
626
Points
iLove 04/27/11 - 09:16 am
0
0
"been" I agree. . . but which
Unpublished

"been" I agree. . . but which one brings in more money the quickest?

abcxyz
0
Points
abcxyz 04/27/11 - 09:20 am
0
0
The "lack of day cares in

The "lack of day cares in those areas" translates to lack of opportunities to participate in the lottery-funded pre-K. People in the rural areas don't have day cares available with pre-K. People in more populated areas do have day cares available with pre-K. This is not about getting free child care, it is about having access to pre-K.

dmb78
0
Points
dmb78 04/27/11 - 09:21 am
0
0
Has anyone considered that

Has anyone considered that they picked these schools based upon the pre-registration which occurred in March? Maybe these schools had the highest amount of kids who signed up for the pre-k lottery.

louisvilleisasmalltown
0
Points
louisvilleisasmalltown 04/27/11 - 09:48 am
0
0
I can't even begin to rant

I can't even begin to rant about the cuts to the GA Pre-K program. Let's just say that I have lived in a "rural" area (see username) and can defintely speak of how much Pre-K programs are needed, esp. in poor/rural areas. However, Pre-K is a GREAT benefit to all the children who get to use it. I really hope that someone out there plans to pull CRCT scores in the year 2016 to see what a detrement these cuts will have on state, oh wait, national government mandated testing (we certainly can't leave out the blessing of that little NCLB law). Beleive it or not, GA has had one of the highest ranking Pre-K programs in the nation and is now falling behind (http://m.apnews.com/ap/db_15980/contentdetail.htm?contentguid=n7HUeNb7).

And yes, I am the spouse of a teacher so I tend to get involved in educational debates and will soon be the proud parent of a Pre-K student, however I missed Columbia County's Pre-K enrollment (had other plans that fell through) and now have to make other plans....along with lots of others in the metro Augusta area. I also have a background in Early Childhood Education and if you even think that Pre-K is glorified babysitting, coloring, and play then I challenge you to sit in a classroom with 20 four year olds for 8 hours and then hold yourself accountable to at least 40 parents/guardians/grandparents. Sadly, the need for kids to come out ahead in education is getting younger and younger.

abcxyz
0
Points
abcxyz 04/27/11 - 10:08 am
0
0
Lottery funded Pre-K is still

Lottery funded Pre-K is still available to all 4-year-olds. It is provided in most day cares in the area. The only difference is that the rural areas don't have day cares nearby, therefore the schools will house the pre-K programs. Residents of Martinez/Evans can send their children to pre-K in the day cares!

louisvilleisasmalltown
0
Points
louisvilleisasmalltown 04/27/11 - 10:32 am
0
0
But even daycares are

But even daycares are affected by the budget cuts to the state funded Pre-K program. I called one last week about enrolling my daughter, and I was told that they aren't doing enrollment yet until they find out what is going on from the state as well as what the local BOEs are doing.

louisvilleisasmalltown
0
Points
louisvilleisasmalltown 04/27/11 - 10:32 am
0
0
But even daycares are

But even daycares are affected by the budget cuts to the state funded Pre-K program. I called one last week about enrolling my daughter, and I was told that they aren't doing enrollment yet until they find out what is going on from the state as well as what the local BOEs are doing.

stillamazed
1489
Points
stillamazed 04/27/11 - 10:54 am
0
0
Education should be the very

Education should be the very last thing that should be cut from any state budget, these children will someday be the leaders and workers in this country, we lag far behind othe developed countries as it is where education is concerned. they take out exercise programs first then wonder why we have a generation of over weight kids, now they want to cut sports and arts programs and pre k, come on, how about cutting some of these sorry state employees jobs who come to work and sham all day......

louisvilleisasmalltown
0
Points
louisvilleisasmalltown 04/27/11 - 12:28 pm
0
0
Also, I really hate to go

Also, I really hate to go here, because I love the daycare teachers my daughter has been under the care of, but there is a BIG difference between a daycare teacher with a 2 year associates degree and a Pre-K public school teacher with a 4 year degree (or higher). If I were to walk into a daycare right now and ask about "individualized" instruction gared towards my daughter who at this moment I can check off learnings she already knows from the Bright From the Start Curriculum, many "daycare" teachers would laugh in my face, but a public school teacher would know what I am talking about. I'm not calling my daughter a genius by any means, she has weaknesses in some subject areas, but I have my own copy of the BFTS curriculum that I keep at home and go through it to see where she is at.

It's really sad the difference in training for teachers who teach in an important area of learning and development (Early Childhood Education). Yes, education does begin at home, but sadly there are parents who don't hold up their end of the bargin and we place the burden on classroom teachers for the next 13 years.

Wonder why daycares have high staff turnover? Look at how they are valued compared to a 4 year/5 year/6 year PH.D earning--degree holding teachers. I think anyone who is involved in the education and care of children, espically children of a young age needs to be valued so much more than being paid $5-$7/hr to "babysit" our children. I had a friend in high school whose mom decided to run an in-home daycare, except she took it to the next level and got NAEYC certified -- you don't even want to know the level of work she had to do for that certification, it's not something that's just handed out. She had to write lesson plans for her one year olds that were developmentally appropriate. Lesson plans for one year olds......not that she was sitting them in high chairs and doing lessons on a chalkboard, but she had to make sure she had activities that were structured according to their dvelopmental needs.

If you do a program search on the NAEYC website, you'll find only one program is NAEYC certified in Augusta (a Head Start program) and nothing else for our area (I searched Waynesboro, Martinez, Evans, Thomson, and Lousiville).

Riverman1
106987
Points
Riverman1 04/27/11 - 11:13 am
0
0
Online schools are now

Online schools are now provided for elementary though high school. Why not have an online program for pre-K? Of course the parent would be doing most of the work for children that young and closely involved in the process, but it is an alternative to nothing. If it works well, let's start emphasizing more and more online education and possibly start eliminating schools while saving billions.

Riverman1
106987
Points
Riverman1 04/27/11 - 11:15 am
0
0
I'm really not sure about

I'm really not sure about this and curious. How much does it cost a parent sending a child to public school pre-K versus private pre-K? The state doesn't help with the private pre-K costs, does it?

Patty-P
3521
Points
Patty-P 04/27/11 - 11:51 am
0
0
Riverman...Pre-K children are

Riverman...Pre-K children are learning basic concepts which also require hands-on skills, such as writing letters and numbers, learning to cut out shapes with scissors, etc. We can't depend on computers to teach everything. Then we also have to think about those homes that do not have access to a computer or online services.

Patty-P
3521
Points
Patty-P 04/27/11 - 12:09 pm
0
0
Riverman...from what I know,

Riverman...from what I know, there is no fee for Pre-K at a public school, nor is there a fee for state funded Pre-K at daycares.

louisvilleisasmalltown
0
Points
louisvilleisasmalltown 04/27/11 - 12:27 pm
0
0
One private program center

One private program center that I am looking at is estimated to be $135/week.

Then there are the private schools around here (Prep, EDS, ST. Mary's, Westminster) depending on a half day or full day program costs between $5000-$8500 for the year (then there are other assorted fees), plus the need for after school care for full time working parents (regardless of choosing a half or full day program). Not to mention that at this time and date, do they have the room for new enrollees, what about the possibility of financial aid, can one get it so late? (referring to the local private schools)

And just as Patti said, I really can't see Pre-K students handling all academics online. Not to mention that parents who work, need a place for their children to go during the day.

Funny, I am working on my Master's in Instructional Technology, but I can say that online learning is not the end-all-be-all to academia (even for child school on a college learners -- my program is online through Georgia Southern...LOL).

If I could afford to stay home and home school, you bet I'd be doign so, but then can you explain that to my mortgage company -- that I am enriching my child's future rather than being able to pay the mortgage?

I am slightly stressing out about this, and soon, once other Evans/Martinez parents find out they are losing their programs, they will be stressed too. Gov. Deal came out in January and basically stated that he felt Pre-K was "uneccessary." It is not by any means to any child or parent. I say that once we become a stressed out group, we should sue Deal for emotional distress.

I am also holding my breath until April 2016 when we get a firsthand look at CRCT scores of those then third graders.

gutdawg
10
Points
gutdawg 04/27/11 - 01:57 pm
0
0
My jury is still out on the

My jury is still out on the Pre-K program, but I want to really see if any of you people will even pay attention when they announce the record sales for the lottery, and before anyone says it won't happen, trust me it will. Lottery sales have gone up every year since the creation of it. I do realize that more kids (both Pre-K and Hope) are using it now than ever before, but the real THIEVES are the people that work for the lottery getting HUGE bonuses because of increased sales. From the Director or CEO all the way down to the clerks at local offices. Someone needs to look at how much of the money since creation of the lottery has gone for this purpose. Biggest form of robbery the state has ever come up with. I applaud this years legislation on implementing limits, but here is the limit I want to see, NO BONUSES! Before any of you jump on the fact that they deserve it because of the sales, BULL, they knew what the job paid before taking it. Give the money to the kids, all of it!

Back to Top
loading...
Search Augusta jobs