Child care manager Andee Harrison is excited about the high quality statewide pre-kindergarten program scheduled to start next fall. She says it’s high time the state focused on teacher training for little kids.
Andee says, “As children go into kindergarten more and more is expected of them, so it’s really important to have developmental programs for the children, particularly all through their preschool years.”
But the additional training will come at a price. Lawmakers are leaning toward requiring college degrees for pre-k teachers, and no more than 10 kids per teacher.
At a starting salary of $25,000, that’s more than $187 million just for teacher salaries. The governor insists he’ll find the money for the pre-k program, but first he has to find the cash and then convince lawmakers to spend it.
The experts warn the costs will be even higher if lawmakers drop the ball.
Dominic Calabro of the budget watchdog group "TaxWatch" says Floridians are already shelling out big bucks to make unprepared children repeat grades each year.
Dominic says, “It’s hundreds of millions of dollars, so the getting it right at pre-k levels is really critically important not only for the kids' learning, but also for the taxpayers of Florida."
Jeb Bush promises he’ll make it happen.
Gov. Jeb Bush says, "I will put in my budget. My commitment to the Legislature is I will lead this in terms of the amount of money that we believe will be necessary."
But lawmakers have already balked once, and whether they can pull it together this time is still a big question mark.