Southern Fulton Elementary Loses Pre-K Funding
Southern Fulton School District was dealt a severe blow last week that could not only affect its future standardized test scores but also the preparedness of its young students entering kindergarten.
Last Tuesday evening, elementary Principal Theresa Corle announced to members of the school board that during a recent conference call school officials learned the district would no longer be receiving state funding for its prekindergarten program for 3- and 4-year-old students.
Corle stated that of the $124 million in applications received from across the commonwealth, only $87 million were funded. Southern Fulton received approximately $112,000 during the 2012- 13 school year, which covered the entire cost of the program for 26 students overseen by teacher Amber Goldizen.
Corle went on to note that one of the state’s biggest criteria in this funding round was expanding the “geographic distribution” of funds.
As a result of the funding cut, the board voted 5-1 to furlough Megan Mabey-Leach, the district’s least senior paraprofessional. Board member Mark Mosemann voted against the furlough, while fellow board members Tim Hull, Tim Mellott and Dave Smith were unable to attend the July 16 meeting.
Mosemann questioned why the board wasn’t talking about how beneficial the program was in spite of the fact the budget was cut in its entirety.
Superintendent Hervey Hann said the lack of a pre-kindergarten program could be very detrimental to the students and proposed running a program that would cost $77,128. The program would require at least 17 4-year-old children to enroll and be operated solely by the teacher without the assistance of an aide.
The expense of sending a student to the program would fall to the parents at a daily estimated cost of $25. Hann said the administration is exploring funding options for low-income families needing assistance.
Unfortunately, as board member Eric Barnhart pointed out, two other preschools within six miles of Southern Fulton schools offer enrollment at a cheaper rate. He also added that many parents would also have to pay for the additional expense of a babysitter between the hours of 3:30 p.m. and 5:30 p.m.
Various suggestions were made such as the district absorbing a third of the overall cost to operate the program.
The superintendent agreed to solicit input from the public concerning “student interest in attending.” Residents who may be interested in the new pre-kindergarten program or would like more information are asked to contact elementary Principal Corle at 717-294-3400.