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July 24, 2014

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Originally published: 2012-07-16 15:11:09
Last modified: 2012-07-16 15:11:09

Blowing Rock School’s Pre-K program eliminated

Due to continued funding reductions at the state level and new reductions from the regional Head Start office, the prekindergarten program of the Watauga County Schools is being cut back from nine classrooms serving a total of 162 children at eight schools to five classrooms serving a total of 90 children at four schools in 2012-13.  

The schools that will retain prekindergarten classrooms are Cove Creek, Green Valley, Hardin Park and Parkway.  

Each of the four sites will have one classroom with 18 spaces, except for Hardin Park, which will have two classrooms with a total of 36 spaces.  There will not be a prekindergarten class at Bethel, Blowing Rock, Mabel, or Valle Crucis schools in 2012-13.  

Prekindergarten students will be selected from the current pool of applicants on the basis of risk factors for academic success and all spaces will be filled by students having one or more risk factors.  Parents who have applied for a space in the program will be notified by letter of whether or not their child has been accepted into the program. The letters should be delivered to all parents by the middle of next week. "

The need to scale back the prekindergarten program became clear following the final adoption of the state budget last week, as the legislature overrode the governor’s veto and enacted a budget that did not restore funding cuts made to the North Carolina Pre-K program in 2011-12, according to Watauga County Schools officials.  
The cost of operating the prekindergarten program for nine WCS classrooms in 2012-13 would have been approximately $756,800, while the funding available to support the program is $456,200.  

Due to state budget cuts in the 2011-12 fiscal year, the program had operated at a deficit of $204,600 last year, officials said. 

The projected loss of $300,600 for 2012-13 made it clear that program costs would have to be curtailed to fit within the available revenues going forward, according to officials.  

In implementing the required reductions, the school system assigned priority to serving children with the greatest number of risk factors for academic success and maintaining classrooms that would serve the children at highest risk.   

A slide presentation summarizing this information and the costs and funding sources of the prekindergarten program is available from a link on the news and data page of the WCS website ( http://www.watauga.k12.ns.us).

“It is with a heavy heart that we recommend cutting back on an early intervention program that we know is valuable to these students and their families, but we have chosen a solution that will maintain the integrity of the program within the available resources,” said WSC Superintendent David Kafitz. 

In presenting the recommendation to the Watauga Board of Education at Monday night’s meeting, Associate Superintendent  Scarlet Davis said that the program reduction will result in the elimination of four teaching positions and four teacher assistant positions, but the persons in these positions will be offered other employment with the school system and no layoffs of current personnel are expected.  

Three of the affected teachers had previously requested and received assignment to teaching positions in other grade levels for next year. 
 
For more information and stories, see The Blowing Rocket.


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