Yesterday, Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal announced he would retool his budget-reduction strategy to preserve a six-hour day in the state’s pre-K program. Earlier, the Republican governor had proposed cutting the day to four hours and cutting staff salaries by 30 percent.
The new plan would shorten pre-K the school year to 160 days, from 180, and increases class size to 22, from 20. Staff salaries would see a 10 percent reduction. Deal’s goal is to slash $54 million from the lottery-funded program. Under the new plan, the state would offer 2,000 more slots to students. Currently 10,000 children are wait-listed for state pre-K. House Minority Leader Stacey Abrams and other Democrats have expressed support for the plan.
Last week the Southern Education Foundation, Inc. released a study linking the state’s pre-K program to a dip in dropout rates in middle and high school, as well as to reduced retention and special education referrals. The study estimated these effects saved the state about $36 million in 2010 and projected savings of up to $219 million over the next six years.
A version of this news article first appeared in the Early Years blog.