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Monday, March 7, 2011 - 7:19am

Deal Backs Down On Pre-K

Updated: 3 years ago.
In an agreement with state lawmakers, Gov. Nathan Deal announced a change to his plan to preserve Georgia's Pre-K program. (photo courtesy Gveret Tered)

Public pre-K would continue as a full day program under revisions the governor made Monday to his plan to prevent lottery funded education from going broke. Deal's original proposal made pre-kindergarten a half day program.

Governor Deal says he’s restoring the full day after outcry from teachers and parents.

"It was the primary area of contention for many people, for the provider community to be able to retain the teachers they’ve attracted, from the parent community for not being able to have after-school programs," says Deal.

Deal says in order to save costs, the program’s calendar year will be cut 20 days. It will go from a 180 day school year to 160 days giving schools flexibility on where to trim their calendars. He also will expand class sizes by two students each.

Under this proposal, teachers’ salaries get a 10 percent reduction rather than the 30 percent in the former plan.

The moves will allow the state to cut $54 million while adding 2,000 slots to the pre-K program, which will put a dent in the 10,000 student waiting list.

Child advocate groups are satisfied with the revision. Senate Democrats, however, who introduced their own proposal to save lottery funded education aren't. They want a revision of the governor's plan of the HOPE scholarship that will fully restore it for college students.

Democratic senator Jason Carter says under Deal’s plan, most HOPE scholars would see a 20 percent reduction in funds.

"While the flexibility on pre-K is great and I applaud it, I hope we can find some similar flexibility with regard to HOPE scholarship and Lottery Corporation funding issues."

Carter says more of the education programs could be saved if the Lottery Corporation would give more of its profits to them.

The senate could vote on the HOPE measure as early as Tuesday.

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