Education Leaders Worried Over Gadsden Pre-K Predicament

By: April Douglas
By: April Douglas

As another school year winds down, plans for next year are winding up. That goes for the voluntary pre-k program that takes effect this August.

Yet Gadsden County is one of eight school districts ineligible for pre-k programs.

John Winn, Florida Education Commissioner, says, "Not reducing class by enough, then Legislature felt, and I think rightly so, they shouldn't use classes for voluntary program."

Winn fears the overcrowded classes will force roughly 155,000 four-year-olds to private programs, and most of them are in rural areas with limited access to quality programs.

Gadsden County is rounding up those students now.

Vickie Stegall, a pre-k program specialist, says, "Head Start and Title One serve economic and disadvantaged kids, serving less children than this year."

Parents like Karen Hall believe the pre-k programs are vital to her twin daughters’ academic success.

Karen says, "[I] want them to have every opportunity to succeed and start school reading."

State education officials say it's better to know now about ineligible districts so coalitions and the Head Start program can prepare to carry the load.

Until Gadsden County reduces class size in grades K-3 by students, they will be ineligible to offer voluntary pre-k programs.

In Gadsden County, 100 to 150 parents have pre-registered for voluntary pre-k programs. Compare that to Leon County, where roughly 850 students are pre-registered.


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